Top-ranked Spain advances to Euro 2012 semifinals | Soccer
Xabi Alonso scored two goals in his 100th international appearance, leading top-ranked Spain to a 2-0 victory over France and a spot in the European Championship semifinals.
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DONETSK, Ukraine — Xabi Alonso scored two goals in his 100th international appearance Saturday, leading Spain to a 2-0 victory over France and a spot in the European Championship semifinals.
Alonso first scored with a thumping downward header in the 19th minute and also converted a penalty in injury time.
"We knew this was the most important match and we played very well," Alonso said. "Scoring the early goal really made things easy, so I must say we're happy."
The victory was defending champion Spain's first over France in a competitive match in seven attempts. Spain will next face Portugal on Wednesday in Donetsk in the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Spain, ranked No. 1 in the world, won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
"When you lose a game, there's always something missing. I'm not sure if it's possession or technical ability," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "The lads gave everything and it's very hard to play against Spain. We blocked their left flank, which is their strong point."
The opening goal was the result of excellent one-touch soccer — the hallmark of Spain's game. Andres Iniesta prodded the ball through for Jordi Alba, who whipped a perfect cross from the left to Alonso. The Real Madrid midfielder timed his run so well no France defender picked him up.
"He knows how to sacrifice himself, help the team and where to play," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. "He is one of the attacking strengths of ours. He knows how to create and finish."
Spain wrapped things up after France's Anthony Reveillere barged into substitute forward Pedro Rodriguez in injury time. Alonso coolly sent goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot, looking right but clipping the ball firmly to the left.
France's only shot on target came in the 32nd minute, when Yohan Cabaye's free kick was tipped over by Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
"They were there for the taking," Blanc said. "We knew we would get some chances, and the only thing I regret is that they scored off their first good chance. If we had gone in level at 0-0 at halftime, then I think we would have had more room in the second half."
Major League Soccer
• San Jose moved into the MLS lead by beating host Real Salt Lake 2-1. Real Salt Lake held the league lead entering the showdown.
Chris Wondolowski of the Earthquakes scored the winning goal in the 84th minute, five minutes after Javier Morales scored for Real Salt Lake.
• Mike Magee, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan scored first-half goals and the Los Angeles Galaxy beat the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0. The Galaxy has won three in a row.
• In other MLS matches, Philadelphia routed visiting Sporting Kansas City 4-0; host Montreal beat Houston 4-2, Chicago defeated visiting Columbus 2-1; host Toronto FC and New England played to a 2-2 draw; and visiting Chivas USA and FC Dallas played to a scoreless tie.