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Spain trounce Russia to enter Euro 2008 final
Mike Collett | June 27, 2008 02:22 IST
Last Updated: June 27, 2008 02:55 IST
Spain reached the European Championship final for the first time in 24 years on Thursday after a convincing 3-0 victory over Russia [Images] to set up a meeting with Germany [Images] in Sunday's Euro 2008 [Images] decider.
Xavi scored with a superbly taken opportunist volley at a rainswept Ernst Happel Stadium to give Spain a deserved 1-0 lead after 50 minutes and substitute Daniel Guiza made no mistake when he beat the off-side trap to make it 2-0 after 73 minutes.
Cesc Fabregas set up David Silva to make it 3-0 eight minutes from time.
The breakthrough in an absorbing match came five minutes into the second half when Andres Iniesta cut in from the left and found Xavi who had lost his markers.
He took his chance brilliantly to put Spain ahead and on the way to their first final since they lost to France [Images] in 1984.
Guiza replaced Fernando Torres up front after 69 minutes and took only four minutes to strike after being set up by midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who had a huge influence after replacing the injured David Villa [Images] after 35 minutes.
Spain, who stretched their unbeaten run to 21 matches, will be attempting to be crowned European champions for the first time since their only success in 1964.
Germany, who reached the final on Wednesday by beating Turkey 3-2, will be aiming for their fourth continental triumph.
Spain beat Russia 4-1 in the group stage two weeks ago and were the better side again on Thursday, totally deserving their triumph because their midfield dominated and created plenty of chances for the front men.
Russia, who improved enormously after that opening loss to Spain, never found the rhythm and verve that had seen off Netherlands in the quarter-final and Andrei Arshavin, the inspiration behind their revival, had a largely anonymous game.
Both teams made a lively start in the pouring rain with Spain creating the first two chances. Torres turned and shot straight at Igor Akinfeyev after six minutes and Villa forced the keeper into a good save five minutes later.
Russia's first serious chance came after 16 minutes when Roman Pavlyuchenko blasted a free kick just over Iker Casillas's bar. He also went close with a long-range shot after 31 minutes. However, the second half belonged to triumphant Spain.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008