Spain’s 4-0 victory knocks Ireland from European contention
Fernando Torres scored a goal in each half Thursday to give Spain a 4-0 win over Ireland and eliminate the Irish from the European Championship.
David Silva and substitute Cesc Fabregas also scored second-half goals at Gdansk, Poland, as the defending champions improved to four points in Group C, the same as co-leader Croatia.
Spain dominated the tempo and scoring opportunities through its quick combinations, taking 26 shots and putting the team on course for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Torres, who scored in the Euro 2008 final, put Spain ahead early, sending an angled shot over goalkeeper Shay Given in the fourth minute.
“For the vast majority of time, we were chasing shadows,” Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews said.
At Poznan, Poland, Italy paid for its defensive tactics, letting a first-half lead slip away in a 1-1 draw with Croatia. Andrea Pirlo gave the Italians the lead with a curving free kick in the 39th minute, but Mario Mandzukic was left unmarked to equalize for Croatia in the 72nd.
Italy had numerous other first-half chances from Mario Balotelli, Claudio Marchisio and Antonio Cassano, but the Azzurri lacked finishing quality. Balotelli, in particular, appeared hesitant and missed one opportunity after another.
“If you can’t finish it off, of course you’re going to have regrets,” said Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli, who will likely be questioned for sticking with Balotelli up front.
Having opened with a 3-1 win over Ireland, Croatia has four points in Group C. Italy has two points after its opening 1-1 draw with Spain.
“Probably the whole country was not expecting this,” Croatia Coach Slaven Bilic said. “We have a really good chance of going through.”
ETC: Armstrong won’t go quietly
Lance Armstrong is gearing up for a fight over the latest round of doping allegations.
Armstrong’s lawyers demanded access to evidence gathered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, including test results and the names of witnesses who said they saw the seven-time Tour de France champion use performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong has until June 22 to respond in writing to the fresh allegations, the first step of what could be months-long process.
“I’m exploring all my options,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview Thursday with the Associated Press from Paris. “They’re not limited only to arbitration with USADA. I think there are other questions that need to be answered with regard to their behavior and tactics.”
“They are well known to move the goal line on you,” he said, referring to the drug agency.
The television schedule for USC’s 2012 football season is beginning to take shape, ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks announcing broadcast arrangements for the Trojans’ games against Stanford, California, Utah and Notre Dame. The TV schedule so far:
Sept. 1 season opener vs. Hawaii in the Coliseum, 4:30 p.m., Fox. Sept. 8 vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., 12:30 p.m., Channel 7. Sept. 15 Pac-12 opener at Stanford, 4:30 p.m., Fox. Sept. 22 at home vs. Cal, TBA, Pac-12 Networks. Oct. 4 (Thursday) at Utah, 6 p.m., ESPN. Nov. 24 at home vs. Notre Dame, TBA, Channel 7 or ESPN.
Broadcast network and kickoff times are still to be determined for games against Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may have to miss Wimbledon after injuring his right hand during a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (5) third-round loss to Ivan Dodig at Queen’s Club in London. Last year, the charismatic Frenchman lost to Andy Murray in the Queen’s final and upset Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Dodig will play Sam Querrey, who stayed on track to reach his second final at the pre-Wimbledon event by upsetting eighth-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Rafael Nadal defeated Lukas Lacko, 7-5, 6-1 at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, the Spaniard’s first singles match since he won a record seventh French Open. Federer, a five-time winner of this Wimbledon tuneup, downed Germany’s Florian Mayer, 6-4, 7-5.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has backed away from his assertion that he will return from a torn right Achillies’ tendon in November, but insists he will play in 2012. Suggs had surgery on May 8. He recently discarded his crutches and now walks in a protective boot. ... The Houston Texans signed first-round pick Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end from Illinois, to a four-year deal. Mercilus was the 26th overall pick in this year’s draft.
The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Chris Stewart, coming off a somewhat disappointing season, to a one-year contract. The 24-year-old Stewart had 15 goals and 15 assists in 79 games, along with a career 109 penalty minutes.
Mark Martin exceeded 201 mph during a test session Thursday on Michigan International Speedway’s newly paved surface, part of an eye-opening morning in which all but two drivers were fast enough to break the track’s qualifying record. Qualifying is Saturday for Sunday’s 400-mile Sprint Cup race.
Michigan senior defensive tackle Will Campbell has reached a plea deal in his malicious destruction of property case in Ann Arbor. Campbell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in exchange for waiving a felony.
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