Alonso Sparks Spain Past France into Semifinals
Midfielder Xabi Alonso scored two goals to help defending champion Spain cruise into the European Championship semifinal with a comfortable 2-0 win over France at Donbass Arena.
In his 100th international appearance, the midfielder opened scoring after 19 minutes when he headed in at the back post via a cross from the left-back Jordi Alba.
Alonso added a second from the penalty spot in the dying minutes for the Spaniards, who won over France in a competition for the first time in seven attempts. France had earlier beat Spain in final of Euro 1984, 2-0, and in the last 16 of the World Cup in 2006, 3-1.
With his performance, Alonso became the Spanish player ever to score two goals in the knockout stage of a European Championship.
"We knew this was the most important match and we played very well," Alonso said. "Scoring the early goal really made things easy, so I must say we're happy."
Spain will next face Portugal in the semifinals with an eye for its third straight major title after winning the Euro in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. Portugal earlier defeated the Czech Republic, 1-0, in the quarterfinal.
Before the game, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque decided to revive his much-criticized "striker-less formation" following Fernando Torres' disappointing performance against Croatia.
It worked wonders for Spain as it controlled the ball from kickoff until Alonso scored in the 19th minute with a header.
In the 35th minute, France had a chance to equalize but Yohan Cabaye's kick from 35 yards was blocked by goalie Iker Casillas.
In the second half, Mathieu Debuchy went close with a flashing header that just cleared the Spanish bar.
The Spaniards unleashed 13 shots, three of them were on goal while France only had four attempts. The Spain controlled most of the game with 60 percent of possession going its way.
Wrapped in yellow and red flags, Spaniards danced for joy in the streets of Donetsk after their team beat France 2-0 in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals
Spaniards revel in street after win over France
Thousands of football fans gathered at the Eiffel Tower in Paris to see Laurent Blanc's side's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Spain. Despite hoping they might make it to the semi-finals, France suffered a two-nil defeat, leaving supporters disillusioned and disappointed
Disappointment in France as team exits Euro 2012
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