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Euro 2008

10.06.2008 19:39

Spain get off to dream start (4-1)

David Villa scored an impressive hat trick for Spain as they got off to a winning start against an outclassed Russia. Puyol, Iniesta and Xavi all played from the start, and former Barça youth star Cesc scored the final goal in a 4-1 win.

David Villa is the top scorer at Euro 2008 after grabbing three for Luis Aragonés’ side in their opening match with Russia.

The first half was action packed, with the Spaniards maintaining the lion’s share of the possession, while the Russians went for a more direct approach on the basis of rapid counter attacks.

Villa tips the balance

Fernando Torres and David Villa were devastating in the Spanish attack. It was the Liverpool player who supplied the first goal after making a powerful run into the Russian box, leaving the Valencia striker to stroke the ball home. Guus Hiddink’s side needed to fins an answer quick, and it almost came in the form of a Zyrianov strike onto the post. Barcelona’s Iniesta and Xavi were having commanding performances in midfield, supplying much of the material for the Spanish forwards to deal with, and Carles Puyol led the defence and made some decisive tackles. Spain always looked like scoring more, and when they did, it was Andrés Iniesta who supplied the ball with a flash of inspired brilliance that Villa made no mistake with, making it 2-0 just two minutes before the break.

Danger on the counter

Russia changed things in the second half. They looked to control the ball more, but the occasions just weren’t materialising for the Eastern Europeans. Spain’s back line remained cool and composed, and Aragonés encouraged his side to move their lines up and push forward in search of a third. Villa on the counter attack and Senna with his head could have made it three, but the goal finally came after an inspired one-two that saw Villa hold on to the ball under pressure in the Russian area and claim the first hat trick of the championship.

The Spanish win was not in doubt when Pavlichenko was rewarded for a fine personal performance with a headed goal from a corner, perhaps catching Spain napping somewhat. The Russians were clearly encouraged by the goal, but their celebrations did not last long. Spain burst away on another counter with seconds to go, and a magnificent chip from Villa initiated a move that saw Cesc heading home from a possible offside position to make it 4-1 to Spain.
Spain get off to dream start (4-1)
Match stats
Spain, 4
Russia, 1

Spain: Casillas, S. Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila, Senna, Xavi, Iniesta (Cazorla min.62), Silva (Alonso min. 76) Villa, Torres (Cesc min. 53).

Russia: Akinfeev, Anyukov, Kolodin, Shirokov, Zhirkov, Semshov (Torbinsky min 58), Zyryanov, Bilyaletdinov, Semak, Pavlyuchenko, Sychev (Bystrov min. 46, Adamov min 70).

1-0 min. 29 Villa
2-0 min. 43 Villa
3-0 min.75 Villa
3-1 min. 85 Pavlyuchenko
4-1 min 91 Cesc

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