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Alonso nets brace as Spain coast past France

updated 9:08 PM EDT, Sat June 23, 2012
Xabi Alonso (right) heads past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to open Spain's account in the quarterfinal against France on Saturday
Xabi Alonso (right) heads past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to open Spain's account in the quarterfinal against France on Saturday
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Xabi Alonso scores a brace as Spain beat France 2-0 in Donetsk in Euro 2012 quarterfinal
  • Goals in either half capped a memorable night for the midfielder who celebrated his 100th appearance in style
  • Spain now face Portugal in Wednesday's semifinal

(CNN) -- Spain remain on course to retain their European Championship crown after seeing off a lackluster France 2-0 in the third Euro 2012 quarterfinal at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk on Saturday.

Xabi Alonso celebrated his 100th appearance for his country with two goals in either half to seal a convincing win for the world champions.

"There's a lot of personal satisfaction in getting to 100 caps and of course getting on the scoresheet," Alonso said.

"We are now in the semis and of course all the games at this stage are life and death. We didn't have that many chances but we had the match totally under control," he added.

Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere. Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere.
Euro 2012: The best photos
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Victory over France sets up a showdown with arch rivals Portugal next Wednesday.

Germany crush Greece Euro dream

With coach Vicente Del Bosque once again opting to pack the midfield and leave striker Fernando Torres on the bench, Spain quickly assumed control of the game.

We didn't have that many chances but we had the match totally under control
Xabi Alonso

It fell to Andres Iniesta to unlock the opposition defense in the 19th minute.

Barcelona's midfield maestro threaded a pass through to Jordi Alba who jinked past a flailing Mathieu Debuchy before squaring a cross which Alonso headed home with power and accuracy.

For the remainder of the half, France offered little in reply.

Franck Ribery's industry down the left came to nothing. Yohan Cabaye's 31st minute free kick was turned over the bar by Iker Casillas and Karim Bezema's shooting remained frustratingly errant.

Spain resumed the second half where they finished the first -- controlling the game at a canter with France chasing the game.

Debuchy went close with a header in the 60th minute, but France couldn't capitalize on the few openings they created in the second period.

Coach Laurent Blanc sent on substitute's Samir Nasri, Jeremy Menez and Olivier Giroud but it failed to turn the tide in favor of the three-time European champions.

Anthony Reveillere's foul on substitute Pedro in the 90th minute handed Spain a late penalty and a chance to put the result beyond doubt.

Alonso stepped up to take the spot kick, sent goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way and keep Spain marching on in their bid to land a third consecutive major trophy.

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