GDANSK: The first nation doomed to an early from Euro 2012 are the Republic of Ireland after a defeat by Spain whose 4-0 scoreline did not reflect the chasm of class between the two teams in Gdansk.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s men went into their second game knowing that, having lost to Croatia in their opening Group C match, they had to avoid defeat against the world and European champions. But the first of Fernando Torres’s two goals after just four minutes was a precise indication of the way the night would turn out.

Torres showed all his old pace and alacrity as he seized on slow thinking and a loss of possession in the heart of the Irish defence.

Somehow Ireland survived until half-time but any hopes of a fightback were rubbed out by a simple David Silva stab for goal in the 49th minute. Torres again in the 70th minute and Cesc Fabregas in the 85th wrapped it all up.

The Irish can still play a role in the outcome of the group depending on how much trouble they cause Trapattoni’s fellow Italians in their last game but their appetite for the game will be severely compromised.

Ireland always knew they were in a tough group but they had hoped that their traditional ability to rise above themselves on the big occasion would enable them to spring a surprise or two. In a field of this quality it has proved to be a vain hope.

Spain head into Monday night’s showdown with Croatia with top spot in the group at stake as they currently head the standings on goal difference.

= = = =