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Euro 2008

Villa hits hat-trick as Spain rout Russia

  • Story Highlights
  • Spain's David Villa destroyed Russia with the first hat-trick of Euro 2008
  • Valencia striker on target after 20, 44 and 75 minutes in opening 4-1 win
  • Cesc Fabregas wraps up win after Roman Pavlyuchenko replies for Russia
  • Holders Greece crash 2-0 against Sweden in night's other Group D clash
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INNSBRUCK, Austria (CNN) -- David Villa destroyed Russia with the first hat-trick of Euro 2008 as Spain showed their title intent with a dominating 4-1 victory in the opening Group D encounter on Tuesday.

Valencia striker Villa was on target after 20, 44 and 75 minutes to add to his seven in qualifying and Cesc Fabregas added number four as Spain showed they could finally be poised to shrug off the tag of tournament underachievers.

"Three goals, a hat trick with the national team -- it's started well," said Villa. "We're off to a good start. But there are still two games to go."

Holders Greece crashed 2-0 against Sweden in the night's later group clash.

Spain went ahead when Fernando Torres seized onto a long through ball from Joan Capdevila. The Liverpool star turned his marker, Denis Kolodin; drew goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and slipped the ball inside for Villa to sidefoot into an unguarded net at Tivoli Neu stadium.

Villa's second came on a counterattack following a Russian corner. Andres Iniesta superbly set up Villa who fired his shot through the keeper's legs.

Half-an-hour into the second half the 26-year-old Villa completed his treble after dribbling around Roman Shirokov and slotting his shot past Akinfeev.

It was the first hat-trick at the finals since former Dutch international striker Patrick Kluivert achieved the feat against the former Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals of Euro 2000.

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Roman Pavlyuchenko finally gave Russia some reward for the persistence when he scored with a header in the 86th before Fabregas restored Spain's three-goal advantage in time added on.

"Everyone knows about the importance of this. We'll take advantage of this momentum and boost going forward," said Spain coach Luis Aragones.

"The Spanish team has the luck of having players that can score. It could be Villa today or Torres tomorrow."

Russia also had chances in a high-tempo first half with Igor Semshov firing wide after a solo run after 17 minutes and Konstantin Zyryanov was denied by the woodwork after the Spanish defense failed to clear six minutes later.

"(Considering) how much possession of the ball we had ... we were caught out by our own mistakes," Russia coach Guus Hiddink said. "I hope we can move fast now because we still have two games to go."

The Russians had threatened to dominate possession early in the second half and had a couple of chances on goal through substitute Vladimir Bystrov and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

But Spain appeared to have plenty in hand and with a bit of luck David Silva could have featured among the scorers before giving way to Xabi Alonso in the 77th.

Fabregas -- he replaced Torres after 54 -- and Santi Cazorla, who substituted for Andres Iniesta on 63, injected more pace into Spain's impressive counterattacking.

And Arsenal midfielder Fabregas scored his first goal in 27 appearances for his country after heading Xavi Hernandez's blocked volley.

Despite the slick field and poor conditions on a storm-hit night, the Spaniards looked superb with their footwork and passing on their way to a seventh straight win that left them unbeaten in 17 games.

Villa showed no effects from a right thigh injury picked up a week ago as he increased his international goal total to 17 in 32 games.

He paid tribute to Torres after scoring his third of the night, running over to the bench to hug his teammate.

"He had a very important game and he is a key player to us so I wanted to dedicate that third one to him," Villa said.

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