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    Spain beats France to gain Euro semifinals

    Jun 23, 2012

    XABI ALONSO scored a double in his 100th international, scoring on either half to lift Spain over defensive-minded France, 2-0, on Sunday, Manila time, and into the semifinals of the European Championships.

    World champion Spain, which also won the continental title in 2008, tries to book a return to the Euro final when it battles the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal side that entered the last four with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.

    It looked like Spain had some tough work to do right from kickoff as Les Bleus put all its attention on midfield to prevent La Roja's creative playmakers from producing chances at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine.

    But the defense wasn't airtight and it took only 19 minutes for Andres Iniesta to create a way to break through, finding Jordi Alba who struck a deep cross that Alonso met for a header.

    As France focused on defense, it never got serious chances at goal, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas left nothing much to do with with just four shots -- only one on target -- from France. The only legitimate chance came in the first half, but Casillas merely pushed out Yohan Cabaye's curling free kick.

    Spain even added pressure up front when it sent in forwards Fernando Torres and Pedro Rodriguez for midfielders Cesc Fabregas and David Silva midway through the second half, and the game became too hard to handle for France. 

    Alonso made it two goals with a stoppage-time penalty kick.

    England and Italy play in the remaining quarterfinal at Olympic Stadium in Kyiv, with the winner advancing to a semifinal against Germany, which scored a 4-2 win over Greece.

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