Alonso, who is playing his 100th match for Spain, headed in a cross from Jordi Alba in the 19th minute. The defending champions controlled almost 70 percent of play in the opening half, and had nearly 330 completed passes, double that of France. By the 55th minute, France had improved, now having 42 percent of the ball, according to UEFA statistics.
The winner of tonight’s match at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine will play Portugal in the semifinal.
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque added midfielder Cesc Fabregas to replace striker Fernando Torres from the squad that beat Croatia 1-0 in their last group game, going without a striker against France.
France started with attacking midfielder Sami Nasir on the bench, replacing him with another defender in preparation for the Spanish attacks.
France hadn’t lost in 23 matches before losing to Sweden in their last group game, ending the second-longest stretch without defeat in its history.
Spain won the last European Championship and the 2010 World Cup. France is the last team to knock Spain out of a international tournament, winning a quarterfinal at the 2006 World Cup.
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