2135: Iniesta nearly doubles the lead before the break with a half volley just outside the area which Given tips over. It is the last bit of action of a half that Spain has dominated from start to finish. For the possession they have had, Spain should be further ahead than it is but do Ireland look like making them pay for that? Not at all, they just can’t get the ball back. The Spanish are relentless in possession and if they carry on like this, only they will be scoring in the second half.
2124: The Irish are struggling to get out of their half and the intricate Spanish passing is a delight to watch. Five minutes left of the first half, still 1-0.
2122: Ireland’s job is nearly made twice as hard by the referee - but not because of a contentious decision. As Keith Andrews is about to turn and run away with the ball, referee Proenca runs straight into him while looking the other way. Andrews falls over and Spain pick up the loose ball but cannot find an end product. The Ireland players are furous with the referee for not stopping the play as Andrews was down and Proenca knows he was a little bit at fault there.
2112: Xabi Alonso tries his luck from 30 yards after receiving a pass from Xavi from a corner. His shot takes a deflection which lifts it over the bar for another corner. Gerard Pique wins the header from the resulting delivery but it is wide.
2109: Iniesta goes close to doubling Spain’s lead. He collects the ball from Sergio Busquets and creates an angle for a left-footed strike from outside the area. Given palms the ball away though with a stretching save. Good stop from Given but it is all Spain here.
2102: Spain linking up together nicely, the passing is short and fast and is pulling the Irish defense all over the pitch. They have a lead and know that Ireland will attack them if they have any desire to remain in the competition. Ireland can’t attack without the ball though and they have seen very little of it so far.
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By Andrew P. Napolitano
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