DONETSK, Ukraine — Xabi Alonso scored two goals in his 100th international appearance Saturday, leading Spain to a 2-0 win over France and a spot in the European Championship semifinals.
Alonso first scored with a thumping downward header in the 19th minute and then converted a penalty in injury time.
"We knew this was the most important match and we played very well," Alonso said. "Scoring the early goal really made things easy, so I must say we're happy."
The win was Spain's first over France in a competitive match in seven attempts. Spain will next face Portugal on Wednesday in Donetsk in the semifinals as it bids to win a third straight major title.
The opening goal was the result of excellent one-touch football — the hallmark of Spain's game. Andres Iniesta prodded the ball through for Jordi Alba, who whipped a perfect cross from the left to Alonso. The Real Madrid midfielder timed his run so well that no France defender picked him up.
Spain wrapped things up after France right back Anthony Reveillere barged into substitute forward Pedro Rodriguez in injury time. Alonso coolly sent goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot, looking right but clipping the ball firmly to the left.
France's only shot on target came in the 32nd minute when Yohan Cabaye's free kick was tipped over by Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The match was sometimes dull, but the Spanish did not really need to change gears after Alonso's opening goal.
Although the French made it out of the group stage for the first time since the 2006 World Cup, the manner of Saturday's loss will be disappointing for a team touted as one of the tournament's dangerous outsiders.
France formed a deep defensive line and watched awe-struck as Spain flicked the ball around as if it were a training session.