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Euro 2012: Spain beats France 2-0 to reach semifinals

SHARE Euro 2012: Spain beats France 2-0 to reach semifinals

Spain advances to semis with 2-0 victory

DONETSK, Ukraine — Even if Spain failed to live up to expectations, Xabi Alonso exceeded them.

The defending champions, who are trying to win a third straight major title, advanced to the European Championship semifinals with a not-so-commanding 2-0 win over France on Saturday. In the next round, Portugal and star player Cristiano Ronaldo could provide a much sterner test.

"These types of games, in this type of competition, are always very tense," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said of Saturday's win, "and you need to have the know-how to win them."

Alonso provided that.

The Real Madrid midfielder celebrated his 100th international appearance with an early header and a late penalty, a pair of rare goals from a player more accustomed to anchoring the back of the six-man midfield rather than pushing forward with the rest.

"I could never have imagined to reach my 100th cap, to go to the semis and score two goals," Alonso said. "Hopefully the 101st will be better."

Spain's next match will come on Wednesday against Portugal, again at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. And with Ronaldo improving as the tournament progresses, Spain will likely have to improve as well to earn a chance to defend its title.

—Associated Press