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Spain's big win cements team as one of UEFA favorites

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

By The Associated Press

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- David Villa scored three times Tuesday in Spain's resounding 4-1 victory over Russia, a win that confirmed the Spaniards as a team to beat at the European Championship.

After completing his hat trick in a steady rain, Villa saw teammate Cesc Fabregas also score. Russia's goal came from Roman Pavlyuchenko long after things were decided. Villa scored the first hat trick in the tournament since 2000.

Fernando Torres fed the streaking Villa for a right-footed shot in the 20th minute. The striker slid Andres Iniesta's slick pass under goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev for his second in the 44th.

Villa completed his memorable game after dribbling around Roman Shirokov in the 74th to shoot past Akinfeev with his right foot. He matched the achievement of Patrick Kluivert of the Netherlands on June 25, 2000 against Yugoslavia, the last hat trick at Euros.

Pavlyuchenko scored with a header in the 86th, and Fabregas got his goal in injury time in a Group D game.

Sweden 2, Greece 0

SALZBURG, Austria (AP) -- Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic found his long-lost scoring touch and defending champion Greece fell victim to it.

Ibrahamovic had no international goals since October 2005 before connecting with a powerful right-footed shot in the 67th minute for his 19th goal for Sweden. Petter Hansson scored five minutes later off a scramble misplayed by the Greek defense.

Set up by forward partner Henrik Larsson on a give-and-go, Ibrahimovic's shot eluded Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, who threw himself to the right and got a finger on the ball before it sailed into his upper right corner of the goal.

Central defender Hansson had a rebound of a shot from Fredrik Ljungberg deflect off his body and into the net while two Greece defenders and Nikopolidis desperately tried to clear the ball.

Greece, an 80-1 shot when it won the tournament in Portugal four years ago, started with seven players from that winning squad. But it showed little offense and never really threatened once if fell behind.

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