Spain rolls on against France
Donetsk, Ukraine (Sports Network) - Spain is not ready to relinquish its title as the world's best team yet.
Xabi Alonso scored twice to celebrate his 100th game for Spain, as it returned to the semifinals of a major tournament for the third straight time with a 2-0 win over France on Saturday in Euro 2012 at Donbass Arena.
Spain, Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup champions, beat France for first time ever at a major tournament to become the first defending champion to reach the last four of Euros since Netherlands in 1992.
The Spaniards have now gone eight straight knockout games in major tournaments without allowing a goal, as the French had just a single shot on target. Spain last lost in a major tournament to France in the 2006 World Cup round of 16.
Spain will play Portugal in the semifinals Wednesday as it continues its quest to become the first team to win three straight major titles.
"We're through to the semifinals which was the main thing. We're pleased about that, the 100 caps is just an extra - what's really important is that we're in the semis," Alonso said.
"It's in these matches that we have to show what we're about. We controlled it from start to finish."
Coach Vicente del Bosque again fielded a starting lineup without a striker, as Spain used six midfielders from the start against France.
The formation was successful during group play and Spain had little trouble in the quarterfinals.
Alonso scored his first goal of the match in the 19th minute, as he ran into a huge gap in France's defense to head a Jordi Alba cross past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 19th minute.
Alba was able to deliver the cross after Mathieu Debuchy fell, and Alonso made no mistake with acres of space to work with as he drove the header down and to the far post for his 14th international goal.
France produced its best chance in the 32nd minute, but Iker Casillas was able to push a free kick from Yohan Cabaye away from the top-left corner.
Although the French enjoyed a decent amount of possession and threatened, they were unable to finish off attacks as Casillas was unchallenged the rest of the match.
Debuchy's header into the top of the net in the 60th was the lone good chance, as Spain stayed content with its edge and countered France's substitutes with Pedro and Fernando Torres.
Pedro created the final goal when he was fouled inside the area in the 90th by Anthony Reveillere and Alonso drove the penalty into the left side with Lloris going the opposite way, as Spain extended its reign at least a few more days.
"What I really regret, is ... they scored from the very first chance they had. They had higher ball possession, but they didn't have that many chances," said France coach Laurent Blanc.
"Unfortunately for us, the first one was the right one. I think that if we had reached half time with the score at 0-0 that would have allowed the team to start the second half with better morale."