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Euro 2008

Superb Spain too strong for Russians

  • Story Highlights
  • Spain cruise into Sunday's final of Euro 2008 with a 3-0 victory over Russia
  • Xavi, Daniel Guiza and David Silva all on target in the second-half for Spain
  • Spain, who will face Germany in Vienna, through to first Euro final in 24 years
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(CNN) -- Superb Spain stormed into their first European Championship final in 24 years by rolling over Russia 3-0 in Vienna to set up a final against Germany on Sunday.

Spanish players celebrate Xavi Hernandez's opening goal in their comfortable victory over Russia.

On another wet night, Luis Aragones' men attacked throughout and scored second-half goals through Xavi, substitute Daniel Guiza and David Silva to claim their fifth win in as many games.

The outcome prevented the Russians, who lost 4-1 to Spain in their opening game, from making their first appearance in the final since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Spain were on top at the Ernst Happel Stadion in the first half but had no goals to show for their efforts and, after losing the tournament's leading goalscorer David Villa to injury in the 34th minute, their prospects did not look bright.

Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas, who converted the winning spot-kick to beat Italy in a penalty shoot-out in the quarterfinal, came on for Villa and excelled just as Guiza did when he replaced Fernando Torres.

Spain almost took the lead after just five minutes when Villa fed Fernando Torres inside the area but the Liverpool striker's close-range effort was parried away by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Russia weathered the early storm and began to grow in confidence, with Roman Pavlyuchenko hitting a powerful strike that went straight into the hands of Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Andres Iniesta missed a golden chance to put Spain in front in the 26th minute when he was unable to control Xavi's clever pass into the area. Casillas then came to the rescue for Spain on the half-hour mark, diving full length to palm away Pavlyuchenko's curled effort from the edge of the area.

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The Spanish were rocked shortly after, when star striker Villa limped off and was replaced by Fabregas -- and the Russians almost took the lead seconds later when Pavlyuchenko chested down Ivan Saenko's cross inside the box but fired wide.

Torres should have put Spain in front before half-time. Having perfectly controlled Fabregas' pass, the striker could only manage a weak effort that proved an easy save for the keeper.

Spain picked up where they left off after half-time, and their efforts were rewarded five minutes into the second half.

Xavi played in Iniesta down the left, before finishing his team-mate's cross from inside the box with a well-timed run into the box.

Torres almost made it 2-0 shortly after, with his curled angled effort from Fabregas' assist going just high over the bar.

Guiza came on to replace Torres, and the move proved an inspired one as the substitute made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute when he lobbed Akinfeev after being played through by a delightful Fabregas pass.

With Russia offering little opposition, Spain continued to surge forward and put the game beyond their rivals' reach with nine minutes remaining. Fabregas' perfect ball found Silva inside the area, who fired past Akinfeev to start the fiesta for the Spanish fans.

With two minutes left, Russia almost got a consolation goal but Casillas made a stunning save to deny Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's header from Andrei Arshavin's cross.

Veteran Spain coach Luis Aragones praised his side after their victory. "We didn't do very well in the first-half, but in the second half we were able to play more freely and rediscover our game.

"We are in the final on merit and our adversary is called Germany. It will be a hell of a challenge for us."

Fabregas added: "We came here to win the title, and the most difficult match is still to come. It was kind of strange coming on that early and also I am not a natural striker so it was a strange position on the field for me to take up.

"Will I play in the final? Well he (Luis Aragones) is the boss and I will be there if he needs me."


Russia coach Guus Hiddink conceded the better team had gone through. "We lost to a really good team from Spain," said the 61-year-old Dutchman, who has now met defeat in three major semifinals with the Netherlands and South Korea in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and now with Russia.

"The Spanish were excellent and deserved their victory. I am obviously disappointed by the result, but despite that I am proud of my team."

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