Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given admitted his side were simply no match for world and European champions Spain.
A brace from Fernando Torres and goals from David Silva and Cesc Fabregas saw Spain to a 4-0 win in their Euro 2012 Group C clash on Thursday, sending Ireland out of the tournament.
Given acknowledged Spain were superior, and confessed that he was hapless to stop the floodgates from opening.
“Spain are a fantastic team and they deserved to win. They just ripped us apart on a number of occasions,” Given told reporters after the game.
“With their passing and movement they just have so much time and space. That’s with no disrespect to our team. It’s just that they’re a class above us.”
Ireland’s game plan had been to keep things tight and frustrate their opponents.
But once again conceding an early goal meant they were chasing the game, and Given feels that even though they were trailing by just one at the interval, the Spaniards lifted after the break.
“Spain just went up a notch after the break and carved us open on a number of occasions. No matter what your game is it doesn’t always work against them,” he said.
“For our part, we would love to win against the Italians. But they’ve drawn against the world champions so we all know their quality. We know it’s going to be tough but we would love to give our fans something to cheer about.
“We had terrific support and we couldn’t even give them one goal to cheer (against Spain). You are really proud to be Irish when you see the support that they give us. So we’d love to have a bit of pride and give our fans something to go home with.”
Given also expressed his desire to see Damien Duff, who was substituted against Spain in the 76th minute, don the Irish shirt one last time before he quits the international arena.
“Damien has been a great servant to Ireland and I am sure he will play in that game next week,” Given said.
Given is part of the old brigade at Ireland and accepts there is a gap between his team and Spain.
The veteran shot-stopper said the coaching staff would have a better idea of where the team were at after they have played all their group matches.
“It’s been a tough lesson for us this match and the one against Croatia. I think the European Championship is the elite tournament as it has the elite teams and the elite players,” he said.
“In a World Cup you always get a team in the group stages like a Saudi Arabia or a New Zealand with no disrespect to them, that you fancy beating.
“But in these championships it’s the best of the best and that is really tough.”
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