Originally written on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 6/14/12
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Spain handed Ireland a stone-cold whipping Thursday night, with their 4-0 victory even more emphatic than the final result will show. Fernando Torres scored twice, opening up the affair after only four minutes, while David Silva and Cesc Fabregas added insult. The Irish became the first team to be eliminated Thursday and can only take comfort in one thing: it could have been far worse. Croatia put Italy on the brink of an early exit, when a late goal from Mario Mandzukic turned a winning performance from the Azzurri into a 1-1 draw. Italy were cleary the better team for much of the match but a late mistake by Giorgio Chiellini cost them in the end. Italy must now win their final game against Ireland and hope for help from either Croatia or Spain. More damaging is the fact that the Azzurri are now staring at their third straight early exit from a tournament in a row: they were ousted in the group stages of both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. Thursday's late g...
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