Euro Cup : Spain end Russia’s dream run

Vienna, June 26:

Spain scored three second-half goals on Thursday to beat Russia 3-0 and reach the European Championship final, giving the team a chance to shed its status as football’s biggest chokers.

Xavi Hernandez, Dani Guiza and David Silva scored a goal each to give Spain a shot at their second European title when they play Germany on Sunday.

Spain, who won the 1964 European tournament, had ended their run of five quarter-final defeats by beating Italy in a penalty shootout on Sunday, but they confirmed their title aspirations with their penetrative passing on a slick surface in the pouring rain against Russia.

Spain are likely to face Germany without striker David Villa, who was injured while taking a free kick in the first half. Villa, the leading scorer with four goals, limped off the field and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas in the 34th minute.

Xavi scored the first goal in the 50th minute after an exchange of passes with Andres Iniesta, who eluded one defender before crossing the ball into the box for Xavi to side-foot past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev.

Two Spanish substitutes combined to make it 2-0 in the 73rd. Fabregas flicked a ball over the top and Guiza finished with the outside of his right foot high into the net. Fabregas then slid a pass through for an unmarked Silva inside the box in the 82nd and he scored.

Spain, who beat the Soviet Union 2-1 in the 1964 final in Madrid, had never lost to Russia in four previous matches — including a 4-1 win in the first round — and they didn’t look like blemishing that record from the start on Thursday.

Russia were without Denis Kolodin and Dimtry Torbinski from the 3-1 extra-time win over the Netherlands on Saturday due to suspension. Kolodin was replaced by Vasily Berezutsky.

Spain retained the same team that beat Italy in the shootout after a 0-0 draw. It was the fourth time in five matches that coach Luis Aragones had fielded the same lineup, with the reserve players only getting their chance in a meaningless group win over Greece.