Man of the Match: Jordi Alba. The full-back offered some rare width to Spain’s attacks and it is worth noting that the opening goal came from one of his marauding runs, not the trademark metronomic passing of his more illustrious team-mates. Defensively he kept Mathieu Debuchy quiet and then saw off the threat of substitute Jeremy Menez.
France verdict: They initially came to park l’autobus and after falling behind early on it took until the second-half for them to click into gear and get moving. ‘Plan A’ to play two right-backs in Mathieu Debuchy and Anthony Reveillere was quickly void as Jordi Alba beat them both to cross for Xabi Alonso’s opening goal. ‘Plan B’ then came into action after the break as France went on the attack and with a little more composure in the final third could have got back into the game. A more positive approach from the kick-off would have been far more effective.
Spain verdict: Vicente Del Bosque persisted with his striker-less formation and it worked a treat as Spain lulled France to sleep with their possession football and then scored, thus negating the need to do anything other than their hypnotic passing game. However, with no striker on the pitch there were no quick breaks and Spain never really stretched France. It’s notable that when Les Bleus fought their way back into the game in the second-half, Del Bosque threw on Fernando Torres and Pedro for a bit more dynamism.
Could do better: Florent Malouda. The midfielder offered very little going forward yet somehow managed to do even less work defensively. Malouda failed to track Xabi Alonso for the opening goal, instead he stood staring at the wide open space the Spaniard was about to run into to score. He was given the hook for Samir Nasri after 64 minutes as France pressed for an equaliser.
Stat attack: Xabi Alonso is first Spanish player ever to score a brace in the knock-out stage of a European Championship.