Euro '08: Day 4 ReviewPosted on: 11 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
David Villa inspires Spain to a thrilling win aginst Russia whilst Sweden upset Greece in the first matches in Group D.
Spain’s David Villa hit the first hat-trick of Euro 2008 and in doing so, dismantled Russia’s early hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals.
The diminutive forward struck up an exciting partnership with Fernando Torres in Spain’s attack to rip the Russians apart.
Elsewhere in Group D, Sweden overcame current European Championship holders Greece 2-0 thanks to a stunning strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a scrambled effort from Petter Hansson.
Spain picked up the biggest win of Euro 2008 so far when brushing aside Russia 4-1 in Innsbruck.
Spain 4-1 Russia
Greece 0-2 Sweden
Valencia striker David Villa helped himself to a hat-trick of goals with Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas completing the rout late on with his first international goal.
The Spanish have been widely tipped to overcome their “choking” tag and they lived up to their pre-tournament billing as one of the teams to watch.
Russia started the match positively but were soon behind when Fernando Torres jinked past the Russian defence and squared for Villa to open the scoring.
Konstantin Zyryanov saw his shot come back off the post as the Russians pressed for an equaliser but before the break Villa extended Spain’s advantage.
The 26-year-old, linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, then completed his hat-trick when turning sharply in the box and firing past Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal.
But credit goes to Russia who never let their heads drop and were rewarded for their endeavour when Roman Pavlyuchenko nodded a consolation goal four minutes from time.
There was still time for second half substitute Cesc Fabregas to put the gloss on Spain’s win with a fourth goal in stoppage time.
Villa delicately looped a ball over the Russian defence and when Xavi’s shot was turned away by Akinfeev, Fabregas was on hand to head home the rebound.
Spain have come into the tournament on the back of a 16-game unbeaten streak that stretches back to November 2006 and it’s easy to see why.
Their susceptible defence was organised and efficient allowing the flair players of Xavi, Iniesta and Silva the space to hurt Russia in attack.
Russia on the other hand will now need to beat both Sweden and Greece in their final two games to stand any chance of qualification.
Guus Hiddink’s team missed Andriy Arshavan badly in attack and they’ll have to do without their creative linchpin once more when they face Greece on Saturday.
Sweden Vs Spain (5pm ITV)
Greece Vs Russia (7.45pm ITV)
The Greeks were surprisingly beaten by the unfancied Swedes in a dour encounter on Tuesday evening.
Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Petter Hansson gave Sweden a two goal victory in Salzburg.
Ibrahimovic scored his first goal for Sweden since 2005 with a stunning 25-yard- volley to break the Greeks resistance with just over 20 minutes to play.
Greece looked a shadow of the side that won Euro 2004 and Hansson made sure of the win for Sweden, bundling home the second soon after the opener.
Sweden are now in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals, while Greece face the prospect of having to beat Russia on Saturday to retain the title they won in Lisbon.
With all 16 teams now having made their bow at Euro 2008, which teams do you consider as realistic winners? Share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.
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