Why did the Fernando Torres of old have to reappear in Gdansk last night to sink Ireland and send us home from Euro 2012?
His first goal of two in Spain's 4-0 thumping of Ireland - blistering pace and a powerful finish - showed exactly why Chelsea forked out £50m for his services. Up until then, it looked quite promising. Well, for a whole four minutes. The rest was painful to watch.
Ireland were quickly out of the traps, with Simon Cox forcing Iker Casillias into a full stretch save from an effort just outside the box. They looked eager and were closing the Spanish down at every chance. Keith Andrews left Sergio Busquets lying in a heap after a crunching tackle. Ireland looked in the mood. Unfortunately that's as good as it got.
Fernando Torres picked up a loose ball after Richard Dunne's perfectly timed tackle, sped past Stephen Ward and blasted an unstoppable shot into the roof of Shay Given's net.
Trapattoni's plans of trying to frustrate the Spanish with the hope of catching them on the break were in turmoil after only four minutes. For the remainder of the game, Ireland had no plan B and were totally outplayed by the Spanish.
Surprisingly it took Spain three minutes into the second half to wrap things up when David Silva coolly rolled the ball past Shay Given. Spain were in cruise control and that man Torres added his second when put through on goal by Silva. Torres's replacement Cesc Fabregas hit the fourth as Ireland completely switched off from a corner kick.
In truth, it could have been a lot worse. Ireland aren't the first and certainly won't be the last team to be given a footballing lesson by the Spanish. They get so much praise for how they play the game when they are in possession, but it's their work off the ball and their determination to get the ball back as quickly as possible that sets them on their way. Every time Ireland got the ball back last night, Spain had regained possession within at least five seconds. Nobody presses better and they forced Ireland into making mistakes or punting hopeful balls up to Robbie Keane.
The most disappointing aspect of last nights game for me is Ireland's approach to the game. It's 24 years since Jack Charlton led Ireland to their first major championship finals in Germany. His long ball tactics proved very successful as Ireland competed very well, beating England and narrowly losing to eventual winners, Holland.
In the years that have passed since then, football has evolved. Disappointingly Ireland and our British neighbours haven't. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England all suffer at international level because of this. On the other hand, the likes of Spain, Germany and Holland have all excelled. The simple reason being they can keep the ball for long periods. Don't get me wrong, I know all except England are smaller countries with smaller populations and we should not expect them to beat the likes of Spain, but if we're going to lose like we did last night, why not lose trying to play instead of letting them have possession and hoping for the best?
Once again the Irish fans were fantastic. If our football team haven't lit up Poland and Ukraine, they have and they have certainly left their mark on this tournament. Even though their team was losing, hearing those fans singing made me and every Irishman/woman extremely proud to be Irish.
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