Spain progress to Euro quarters

Last minute David Villa goal gives Spaniards win over Sweden, as Greece go out.

    Ibrahimovic equilised for Sweden in the 34th minute but it was
    not enough to gain any points for his side

    Spain came away from their second Euro 2008 Group D match with a 2-1 win over Sweden and qualification to the quarter finals on Saturday.


    Their progress to the next round was sealed later in the evening when current European champions Greece were knocked out of the tournament after losing 1-0 to Russia.


    David Villa scored a smash-and-grab winner in the Tivoli stadium in Innsbruck, Switzerland, to seal the game for the highly fancied Spaniards.


    Villa latched onto a long ball out of defence in the second minute of injury time and superbly controlled the ball before firing it to the left of Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.


    It was Villa's fourth goal of the tournament and came after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's equaliser for Sweden. Fernando Torres had first put Spain ahead in the 15th minute.


    The result gives Spain six points at top of the group, with Russia second with four points.


    'Incredible goal'


    Villa said: "I'm prouder of this goal than I was of the three that I scored the other day.


    "It's good for me to be able to be there and bring three points for Spain. Today, we suffered a little bit more."


    Luis Aragones, the Spanish coach, said: "Apart from 15 minutes when we got infected by playing the long-ball game, I think we were the better side."

    "We were definitely the better side when we started playing the way we know with the ball," he said.


    "Villa scored an incredible goal."

    Lars Lagerback, the Sweden coach, found the defeat hard to take: "This is a bitter way to lose, with all respect to Spain.

    "We were beaten by a goal out of nothing."

    Holders out

    Greece saw their four year reign as European Champions come to an end on Saturday evening as a 1-0 defeat to Russia left them at the bottom of Group D on one point.

    Nikopolidis, Greece's goalkeeper, was at
    fault for Russia's goal [Reuters]

    The Russians, who scored in the 33rd minute with a Konstantin Zyryanov goal, go into their final match with Sweden knowing that whoever wins will make the last eight of the tournament.

    Zyryanov's goal came after an error by Greece keeper Antonis Nikopolidis, who chased a long cross by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov past his far post. Sergei Semak sent an overhead pass back across goal to Zyryanov, who tapped the ball into an empty net.

    Russia were by far the better side after taking the lead and could have added to the score line during successive attacks.

    Greece were limited to crosses into their opponents penalty area. However, they almost grabbed a late equaliser on 87 minutes when Angelos Charisteas' effort was disallowed for offside.

    Coach satisfied

    Guus Hiddink, the Russian coach, said: "Everyone fought hard for a good result.

    "In modern football you have to be very tough and not give any chances away. I'm very glad that I now know that Russian players can react when it's needed."

    Roman Pavlyuchenko, the Russian forward who was named man of the match, said: "We wanted to show we can do it, that Russians have got character.

    "The main thing is the victory, that's great."

    The result leaves 2004 champions Greece with nothing to play for in their final match with Spain on Wednesday, but has set up what will be a tense encounter between the Russians and Swedes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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