Xabi Alonso leads Spain into Euro Semi-Finals
With a one goal lead going into stoppage time, midfielder Xabi Alonso put an end to France’s hopes in advancing in the 2012 Euros, sending a bullet into the corner of the net on a penalty kick and propelling Spain into the Semi-finals with a 2-0 victory.
That wasn’t all Alonso did to help out his national team. In the 14th minute, superstar midfielder Andres Iniesta laid a perfect ball on the feet of Jordi Alba who then crossed the ball to a cutting Alonso for one of the fiercest headers you’ll ever see. Maybe a step or two below the Puyol header that helped lead Spain into the World Cup Final two years back, but still a remarkable display of how to ‘use your head.’
The first half was a clinic of ball possession by Spain, and France rarely saw a meaningful pass get through in the offensive end. In the second half, France was able to put together a few scoring opportunities, mostly through the stellar play of Franck Ribery, easily the team’s most effective player on the day. But the Spain defense held strong and the always-dependable goaltender Iker Casillas was barely even tested.
What’s next for Spain? A showdown versus their neighboring country of Portugal that you’ll be able to see on ESPN this Wednesday at 2:45 EST. Cristiano Renaldo and company are fresh off of victories over the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, but will undoubtedly face their biggest test against Spain. Italy and England will face each other tomorrow (Sunday) for the last spot in the semi-finals and an opportunity to face Germany.
Apart from being the defending World Cup Champion, Spain is also the defending champion of the Euros and in the 13-year history of the Euros, no team has ever won back-to-back championships. Furthermore, Spain has the opportunity to tie Germany for the most Euro championships with 3 if they can take home the title.