There were several tactical changes made by both managers, with both Del Bosque and Blanc trying to outmanoeuvre each other tactically. Spain started the game without a recognised striker while France went for a defensive outlook, with Nasri, Diarra and Ben Arfa being relegated to the bench.
Spain started brightly, dominating possession in the middle of the park and the breakthrough for the Spanish eventually came in the 19th minute, when a Alba cross was well met by the head of Alonso who put it past Lloris despairing dive.
The play by both teams was generally scrappy, with neither teams looking to take the game by the scruff of its neck and make something happen. However, the Spanish superiority in quality on the bench as compared to the French was apparent, as the Spanish substitutes Cazorla and Pedro combined well together and Réveillère clumsily brought Pedro down in the box.
Alonso took the resulting penalty and sent Lloris the wrong way to make it 2-0, ensuring an Iberian semi-final meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.
Here, ESPNSTAR.com takes a look at the players that took to the field at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
Hugo Lloris - 6.5
The Spanish were unable to really test Lloris on too many occasions and the French custodian had a relatively untroubled night. He could not be faulted for the two goals he conceded and even had to bail his team out once, when a through ball from Xavi almost found an onrushing Fabregas but Lloris was alert and quickly off his line to clear the danger.
Anthony Réveillère - 3
The eldest player in the French squad at 32 of age certainly looked his age in the game as he was given the run around by the Spanish on his flank. In fact, both Spanish goals came from his flank and he was directly responsible for the second goal, clumsily conceding tripping Pedro in the box and conceding a penalty.
Laurent Koscielny - 8.5
Koscielny was the best player for the French tonight, reading the game extremely well and making several crucial interceptions to deny the Spanish from going through on goal. He was also one of the few French players who showed any urgency and desire to win the game, driving forward from defence with the ball and trying his best to make things happen for his team but more often than not, the stagnant French attack let him down. Still, it was an excellent display from the Arsenal defender and the decision not to start him for the previous 3 games looks to be a mistake on Blanc's part.
Adil Rami - 7
Rami looked more assured in defence when paired up with Koscielny and was able to impose his presence on the Spanish attackers. Like his defensive partner Koscielny, he made several important interceptions and won his fair share of aerial duels (granted, majority of the Spanish are vertically challenged). He also did well to cover for Clichy at times and was able to force Silva into making several schoolboy errors.
Gaël Clichy - 5
Clichy was given a torrid time in the first half by the overlapping runs of Arbeloa and the trickery of Silva. He was hardly helped by the lack of support offered by his midfielders, Malouda and Ribery in particular the guilty parties. The 26-year-old improved in the second half and managed to bring the ball forward from his own half on a few occasions but lacked the bravery to venture into advanced positions, which would have stretched the play and given the French attack some much needed width.
Mathieu Debuchy (64' Off) - 7
Debuchy is a right back by trade but he was deployed as a wing-back in this game as Blanc sought to reshuffle his team's tactics in order to contain the Spanish tiki-taka playing style. Despite operating in an unfamiliar position, it would be fair to say Debuchy was one of the few players in the French shirt who could hold his head high after the game, providing a decent threat for the French on the right and sending in several dangerous looking crosses into the box. He even almost managed to get France back into the game, doing well to escape the attentions of Alba to head just narrowly over.
Frank Ribery - 7
Opinion is split as to whether Ribery did well in this game or if he was rubbish. The answer is he was both. The Bayern Munich man did extremely well running at defenders and tormented Arbeloa down the right but his final ball was often very poor. Despite doing well and getting into some decent positions, Ribery wasted numerous opportunities for the French with his the lack of quality delivery in the final third.
Yohan Cabaye - 6.5
The Newcastle midfielder complemented M'Vila well in the middle of the park and added some technical quality in the middle of the park with his range of passing and good reading of the game. He managed to cut out several Spanish attacks and made a few important interceptions in the middle of the park but for the large parts of the game, he was overrun in midfield. He came closest to getting a goal for France with a fantastic free-kick which was curling into the top corner but Casillas did well to save it.
Yann M'Vila (79' Off) - 6.5
M'Vila had the unenviable task of disrupting the flow of the Spanish game, which meant stopping Xavi, Iniesta and Fabreagas from getting their passing game going. He did decently in the first half and was a forceful presence in midfield but his influence and impact in the middle of the park faded out in the second half. It was an average game overall for the Rennes midfielder.
Florent Malouda (65' Off) - 2.5
Malouda was the weakest link in the French squad and fingers will be pointed at the Chelsea man for neglecting his defensive duties well and not tracking Alonso's run into the box which led to the first goal. He also offered very little protection for Clichy down the left and the Spanish often exploited the space where Malouda was supposed to be covering. Blanc should have substituted Malouda off during half-time and leaving him lumbering on in the game all the way till the 65th minute was a mistake on the French coach's part.
Karim Benzema - 3.5
Benzema finished the tournament with not a goal to his name, a poor return for a striker so highly regarded by many as one of the best in the world. He was dreadfully poor in this game and was hardly a threat to the Spanish defence. The Real Madrid striker lost possession too easily with several misplaced passes and woefully wayward strikes from range. His control of the ball was also substandard in this game, which allowed the Spanish players to nick in and steal the ball from him many a time.
Jérémy Ménez (64' On) - 5
Menez, known for his technical ability and pace was unable to make a real impact after coming on as a substitute. He was left out of the game by a combination of hardworking Spanish pressing as well as poor passing from his teammates and the Paris St-Germain playmaker could not make a telling contribution to the game.
Samir Nasri (65' On) - 5
Some eyebrows were raised when Nasri was dropped to the bench for this game and the rumour mill went into overdrive, with many speculating that he was dropped due to him being at the centre of the reported unrest in the French dressing room. Still, given how little of impact Nasri had on the game, it would be tempting to think that Nasri was dropped because he just was not good enough. The Manchester City midfielder (who spent majority of the time on the Manchester City bench) often came very deep to collect the ball and tried to influence play but his habit of passing the ball sideways and backwards instead of forward served to only slow the game down and allowed the Spanish more than enough time to recover defensively and crowd out the French attack.
Olivier Giroud (79' On) - (N/A)
Casillas - 7
The Real Madrid keeper did not have much to do and almost conceded a goal with an uncharacteristic fumble in the opening minutes but eventually got his head into the game. His best moment of the game was the way he confidently handled Ribéry's bullet cross at the near post, which helped ensure his third clean sheet of the tournament.
Álvaro Arbeloa - 6.5
This Spanish shroud hung over Florent Malouda and closed him down so effectively that the French had to be subbed out without so much as a whimper. French attacks down this flank were transitioned into attacks very quickly. He did struggle with the pace and trickery of Ribery but managed to assist his team out with a a few timely tackles. Arbeloa also wreaked havoc on the right and was a constant threat down the right, exploiting the generous space allowed to him by Malouda and Ribery.
Jordi Alba - 8.5
Alba, the most tackled played in the team, got an assist to his name after skipping past Mathieu Debuchy and whipping in an inch perfect opening goal for Xabi Alonso to head in. Most importantly, Alba did reasonably well against Mathieu Debuchy the whole and left him tripping all over himself on several occasions. Ribéry tried his luck on Alba's flank once but after having a taste of Alba's tough tackling he switched back to his original flank and stayed there the rest of the game.
Sergio Ramos - 7.5
Ramos took Ribéry out of the equation so much that "the jewel of French football" looked like a pawned star with nothing more than a couple of dribbles and a cross to his name. He was the second most tackled player in the team but managed to support his fellow defenders by covering their angles well. It was clear that Spanish steel managed to outshine a French gem in this quarter-final match up.
Gerard Piqué - 7
Pique had a quiet game by his standards, but like any good assassin, he goes about his business quietly but efficiently. He snuffed out any and all French attacks by simply being imposing and supporting his teammates. The Barcelona defender was also one of the few Spanish aerial threat specialists dealing with the corners and crosses, even managing to pop out of nowhere with an attempt on goal. He clearly he revels in being an unsung hero.
Sergio Busquets- 7
The Spanish passing game requires a second link man with Busquets seeming to relish every minute of playing that role. He was an ever available presence for his team-mates to pass to in the middle of the park. He did a decent job at shielding his defenders but in all honesty, the French attack was not potent enough to truly test him.
Xabi Alonso - 9
Alonso gave an early warning to Lloris with a cheeky lobbed shot from halfway line which nearly crept in early on in the game. He was not to be denied however, and marked his 100th international appearance for Spain by ghosting past Malouda to nod in one of the most opportunistic headers in Euro history. His long balls were so cultured they seemed to take France back in time and his distribution was fantastic. He controlled the game from deep and even chipped in defence with a couple of last ditch tackles and clearances which had his backline thanking him. He completed a brace with a penalty in the last minute to take his international goal tally to 15.
Andrés Iniesta - 7.5 (84' Off)
Spain have never lost when Iniesta has scored but the Spanish playmaker never looked like threatening in this game. He did not bother much with defending and was sluggish in the tackle, even opting to avoid challenging for the ball at times despite it being inches in front of him. He probably justified not having to get his hands dirty with the defensive side of the game with a fabulous ‘third pass' to Alba who assisted Alonso's goal.
Xavi Hernández - 7
Xavi looked as if he was enjoying a private one-touch training session with Iniesta and Alonso. However, he was a little ruffled when the French players started to harass him a little more in the second half which seemed to interrupt his almost hypnotic passing game. He was however the most hardworking Spanish player with 11857 meters covered in the game. The Spanish maestro was once again controlling the tempo of the game which seemed to follow his every whim. He has yet to get a goal or an assist to his name in this tournament but at the rate he is going, it will not be long before greater recognition in the tournament beckons.
David Silva (65' Off) - 7
In Spain's trigonometry of triangle passing, Silva is the top trident in the right flank drifting in past Clichy so easily it could've been a Premier League game we were watching again. The lack of an out-and-out striker exposed his finishing weakness but he was effective enough to soften the French defence. However, he cut a lethargic figure up front, doing just a bit more running than Casillas in the game.
Cesc Fabregas (67' Off) - 7.5
Considering the fact that he is not a natural out and out striker, Fabregas did well enough for a false number nine and confused the French defenders throughout his time in the game with good off the ball running. The French defence did not have a reference point to hold their line and was constantly shot through with threaded passes by Fabregas.
Pedro Rodríguez (65' On) 7
His inclusion immediately threw the game open for both sides. There was more urgency and pace to the Spanish attack he fed a couple of brilliant passes to Torres who unfortunately fluffed it. He earned his side a penalty after a brilliant piece of play with Cazorla which saw him sneak past Anthony Réveillère and force the French defender to trip him in the box.
Torres (67' On) - 6.5
The enigmatic figure of Torres continues to divide opinion. Detractors of Torres will certainly have been given additional fodder after this game's display as he constantly lost possession for his team and did not even manage to overcome Lloris in a one on one - albeit offside situation. The timings of his run is also an issue and he managed to get caught offside thrice despite coming on late in the game. The debate on whether Del Bosque should persist with Torres from the start looks set to continue.
Santiago Cazorla (84' On) - (N/A)