Last night Russia succumbed to a second Euro 2008 thrashing against Spain. From the start the Spanish showed more vigour and energy, with Russia returning to the type of one paced, leaden football that they had produced previously in this tournament only in the group game against the same opposition.
The Russians will point to an anonymous performance by Andrei Arshavin, although in truth none of their stars turned up for this game. In contrast Spain played some exciting stuff on a sodden pitch in Vienna. Cesc Fabregas in particular orchestrated much of his team’s play after replacing injured David Villa.
On a difficult night like this, failing to produce their incisive passing game, Russia did not have players to dig in and dominate a battle in midfield. Xavi finished after a one two with Senna, to give Spain the lead early in the second half. After that Russia looked thoroughly beaten. Fabregas provided ammunition for Guiza and then Silva to secure an easy victory.
Good luck to Spain in the final. They are a fine side when they play like this, and Northern Ireland fans can always say that we beat the winners on their way to the final, should they lift the trophy in Vienna.