SPAIN - RUSSIA - 4:1 (2:0)
10 June 2008.
UEFA Euro 2008. Group D.
Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck.
Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria).
Spain: Iker Casillas (c), Carlos Marchena, Carles Puyol , Andres Iniesta
(Santi Cazorla, 63), David Villa, Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres (Cesc
Fabregas, 54), Joan Capdevila, Sergio Ramos, Marcos Senna, David Silva
(Xabi Alonso, 77).
Coach: Luis Aragones.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Denis Kolodin, Sergei Semak (c), Roman Shirokov,
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Yuri Zhirkov, Roman Pavlyuchenko,
Igor Semshov (Dmitri Torbinski, 58 ), Dmitri Sychev (Vladimir Bystrov,
46; Roman Adamov, 70), Aleksandr Anyukov.
Coach: Guus Hiddink.
Scorers: Villa (20, 44, 75), Pavlyuchenko (86), Fabregas (90+1).
Villa stars as Spain signal their intent
by Graham Hunter from Stadion Tivoli Neu
A scintillating hat-trick from David Villa gave Spain a clear-cut 4-1
victory over Russia in their first outing at UEFA EURO 2008™ and confirmed
the immense power of the Valencia CF striker's partnership with Fernando
In a high-quality Group D encounter, Russia provided moments to indicate
that Luis Aragones's side may still be vulnerable at the back and gained
consolation with Roman Pavlyuchenko's 86th-minute header. But Villa's
second goal in particular was a stunning team move which may already be
one of the goals of the tournament. Only the seventh player in finals
history to score three in a game, the 26-year-old's treble was the first
in a EURO since Patrick Kluivert's against Yugoslavia eight years ago.
Villa then utterly stamped his class on the match, crossing for Xavi Hernandez
to volley and substitute Cesc Fabregas to head in the fourth in stoppage
Torres has always asked for a quick supply of the ball at international
level and in the 20th minute he got it. Courtesy of a Joan Capdevila interception
and a notable right-footed pass from the left-back, the Liverpool FC forward
was left one on one with his marker. Torres used good upper body strength
to put Denis Kolodin under immense pressure and when the Spaniard skipped
clear he allowed goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to try and dive at his feet
before slipping the ball to the right, into the path of Villa who finished
unerringly. Such was the drama of the contest that within seconds Russia
nearly equalised. Their love of overlapping full-back play had already
caused havoc in the jumpy Spain back line, but instead of Aleksandr Anyukov
this time it was Dmitri Sychev whose right-wing cross drifted, agonisingly,
across Carles Puyol, Marcos Senna and even Andres Iniesta before Konstantin
Zyryanov cracked the ball off the post.
Instead of daunting Spain, it seemed as if the players in red took their
luck as an indication that this was their night. Within six minutes of
Villa's first goal, he and Torres had created three outstanding opportunities
– two of which needed smart blocks by Akinfeev. Russia, for their part,
were fighting like terriers to impose themselves, repeatedly catching
Iniesta in possession, and Pavlyuchenko even hit the bar with a left-footed
shot though referee Konrad Plautz had already called a foul. Villa closed
a sparkling 45 minutes with Spain's second, however, following a brilliant
move. Zyryanov attempted an ambitious pass across the Spain box and David
Silva ran to retrieve it, sparking a lightning-quick passing movement
through Silva, Capdevila and Iniesta which left Villa sprinting into the
box where he slipped the ball between Akinfeev's legs.
End to end
The introduction of Vladimir Bystrov for Sychev made an impact as Russia
sought a way back. Guus Hiddink's men pushed forward relentlessly and
Bystrov's header from Zyryanov's cross in the 51st minute brought Iker
Casillas into action before Diniyar Bilyaletdinov shot narrowly wide eight
minutes later. However, Spain were irrepressible. Fabregas came on for
Torres as Aragones chose to rest his striker and give the Arsenal FC man
a taste of the action. Villa almost had his hat-trick in the 66th minute
but was prevented by a superb Anyukov tackle, yet the forward did not
have to wait much longer. With 15 minutes left, he turned Roman Shirokov
inside out and finished expertly with his right foot. It was just that
Russia's commitment to attack eventually won some reward in the final
minutes. Zyryanov, culpable for the second goal but Hiddink's best player,
took a corner which Shirokov nodded on and Pavlyuchenko headed in at the
back post. Even then Villa had the last word, though, creating Spain's
fourth and Fabregas's first for his country.
Villa slots home goal No2 (©Getty Images)
10 June 2008