Spain power into Euro final
26 Jun 2008 - 21:57:41
Spain powered into the final of Euro 2008 with a 3-0 semi-final demolition of a lacklustre Russia in a rain-soaked Vienna.
Spain were unchanged from the side who needed penalties to see off Italy in the quarter-finals, while Russia coach Guus Hiddink was forced into one change, with Vassily Berezutsky stepping in for the suspended Denis Kolodin in central defence.
The opening minutes of the game saw few clear openings, although Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev made a smart block from close range after David Villa had played in Fernando Torres.
Villa then forced a relatively comfortable save from Akinfeev with a long-range drive, as the rain began to pour down in Vienna.
Just before the half-hour mark Xavi lofted a fine pass through to Andres Iniesta, but he completely missed his kick inside the area and the opportunity went begging.
Soon after Roman Pavlyuchenko found just enough space on the edge of the area to curl a shot goalwards, but it flew a matter of inches wide of goal.
Spain were then forced to replace the injured Villa, before Pavlyuchenko took down a high ball into the area, but failed to hit the target with a rushed left-foot shot.
Five minutes into the second half Spain hit the front as Iniesta found space on the left and fired the ball across the face of goal and Xavi arrived on cue to divert the ball through the legs of the stranded Akinfeev.
Torres lifted a shot high over the crossbar when well placed soon after, as Spain went in search of a killer second goal.
Torres wasted another opening just past the hour mark and after subs Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso had tested Akinfeev with long-range efforts, Spain did grab the all-important second goal.
The outstanding Fabregas lifted a ball over the Russian defence and fellow sub Dani Guiza ran through to lift a cute finish over the advancing Akinfeev.
Eight minutes from time it was 3-0, as Iniesta's pass released Fabregas and he weighted a fine ball across the area to David Silva, who had time and space to net with a low, left-foot shot.
Russia's only effort on target came two minutes from the end as Dmitry Sychev's header was superbly blocked by Iker Casillas, as Spain swept into the final, where they will face Germany.