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Spain qualifies for Euro 2008 finals


Latest update : 2008-06-27

Spain goes to the finals of the 2008 European Championship for the first time in 24 years after beating Russia 3-0. They meet Germany in Vienna on June 29 for the finals. But injured Spanish striker David Villa will be forced to miss the match.

Follow the Euro 2008 on the Observers  Web site

VIENNA, June 26 (Reuters) - Spain reached the European
Championship final for the first time in 24 years on Thursday
with a convincing 3-0 win over Russia to set up a meeting with
Germany in Sunday's Euro 2008 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 offside trap to make it 2-0 after 73 minutes.

Cesc Fabregas set up David Silva to make it 3-0 eight
minutes from time.

"We're in the final, it's what we all wanted but, of course,
now we've got a team in front of us which is Germany and that's
a very big challenge," said Spain coach Luis Aragones.

"The first half was difficult but our second half
performance was extraordinary."

Midfielder Andres Iniesta added: "The team just got better
and better as the game went on. We dominated throughout and
we're absolutely delighted to be in the final."

Russia coach Guus Hiddink said: "We lost against a very good
opponent. We managed to keep up more or less on the same level
for one hour -- they had to make us tired.

"Having third place in this tournament is a tremendous
success and they (Spain) deserved to win."



Spain's breakthrough in an absorbing match came five minutes
into the second half when 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 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 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.


Date created : 2008-06-26