RUSSIA - SPAIN - 0:3 (0:0)
26 June 2008.
UEFA Euro 2008. Semi-final.
Ernst Happel Stadion, Vienna.
Referee: Frank de Bleeckere (Belgium).
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Vasili Berezutski, Sergei Ignashevich,
Yuri Zhirkov, Sergei Semak (c), Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov (Diniyar
Bilyaletdinov, 56), Ivan Saenko (Dmitri Sychev, 57), Andrei Arshavin,
Manager: Guus Hiddink.
Spain: Iker Casillas (c), Sergio Ramos, Carlos Marchena, Carles Puyol,
Joan Capdevila, Andres Iniesta, Marcos Senna, Xavi (Xabi Alonso, 69),
David Silva, David Villa (Cesc Fabregas, 34), Fernando Torres (Dani Guiza,
Manager: Luis Aragones.
Scorers: Xavi (50), Guiza (73), Silva (82).
Yellow cards: Zhirkov (56), Bilyaletdinov (60).
Clinical Spain set up Germany final date
by John Atkin from Ernst-Happel-Stadion
Second-half goals from Xavi Hernandez, Daniel Guiza and David Silva sent
Spain through to a UEFA EURO 2008™ final meeting with Germany as Luis
Aragones's men proved too strong for Russia in Vienna.
Russia looked the team to beat as they scythed through the Netherlands
in the last eight. But with thunderstorms lighting the sky above the Ernst-Happel-Stadion
they struggled to get to grips with the occasion, and never looked like
recovering after Xavi broke the deadlock five minutes after half-time,
steering Andres Iniesta's fine left-wing cross past Igor Akinfeev. Guiza
added another with 17 minutes remaining before Silva completed a morale-boosting
win for Spain ahead of Sunday's final, their first since 1984.
After their 4-1 defeat by Spain in the group stage 16 days ago, Russia
coach Guus Hiddink had complained that he would have to "wake some
players up". He seemed to have succeeded in breathtaking fashion,
yet despite the driving rain and spectacular lightning that greeted the
start of this semi-final, his charges looked to have slipped back into
a torpor. It was not something that was troubling Sergio Ramos, though.
Stung by criticism of his campaign to date in some quarters the Spain
right-back started like a man possessed. He snapped into tackles, scampered
down the wing and just failed to get on the end of Xavi's fifth-minute
Ramos's team-mates soon took his lead, and as much as Aragones does not
like what he terms Spain's "mustard" away jerseys, he would
have been glad his team were not in red. Disjointed at the back and sluggish
in midfield, Russia were struggling to find their feet. It took a well-timed
tackle from Vasili Berezutski – playing instead of the suspended Denis
Kolodin – to deny Fernando Torres a run on goal though the striker soon
tested Akinfeev with a shot on the turn. The Russia goalkeeper was in
action again to deny David Villa as he fired in at the near post as Aragones'
ploy of using Iniesta to double up on the left wing caused confusion.
Russia were looking for Andrei Arshavin to lift them out of the mire but
refuge instead came from the right boot of Roman Pavlyuchenko. The 26-year-old
gave warning with a free-kick and it then took a stunning stop from Iker
Casillas to deny him, diverting a blistering strike away from the top
corner. It soon got better for Russia as the instigator of that group
stage loss, hat-trick hero Villa, limped off and almost immediately Pavlyuchenko
poked wide with the goal at his mercy. The profligacy was underlined five
minutes after half-time when Spain's midfield Argus Marcos Senna turned
over possession and fed Xavi. A smart exchange of passes later and La
Furia Roja were ahead.
In the crowd, Spain's Crown Princess Letizia bore a shocked expression
but in truth it had been coming, and her side were soon on the hunt for
more. Having found his range with the goal, Iniesta released Villa's replacement
Cesc Fabregas, and though the substitute ran out of space, Aragones's
decision to switch to a five-man midfield was proving profitable. It took
an excellent challenge from Yuri Zhirkov to deny Torres before Fabregas
and Xabi Alonso had efforts tipped over. Alonso had been introduced moments
earlier alongside Guiza, and the latter soon sealed victory, lobbing Akinfeev
after being put through by Fabregas' perfectly-weighted dink over the
defence. The No10 was the provider again moments later as his low cross
was fired in by Silva. Next up, Germany.
Spain`s Xavi Hernandez tries to tackle Andrei
Arshavin (©Getty Images)
26 June 2008