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Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 09:42 UK
Russia 0-3 Spain

Xavi Hernandez is mobbed after scoring Spain's first goal
Spain's midfield dominated the match

Luis Aragones and Cesc Fabregas say Spain have been spurred on by a desire to prove critics wrong at Euro 2008.

The Spaniards beat Russia 3-0 on Thursday to reach their first major final in 24 years - against Germany.

Coach Aragones said: "The criticism has taught me a lot, except when I was insulted. It has stimulated me and encouraged me to do things better."

Midfielder Fabregas added: "There are always doubts. Nobody was expecting us to be where we are now."

Aragones, 69, has been a controversial figure as Spain coach but now stands one game away from emulating Josť Villalonga, who led Spain to their sole tournament success by winning the 1964 European Championship.


"When we came to the tournament we realised we had a good team and we could get far,'' added Aragones.

"We had some hard moments but we have always believed in ourselves. We have a great team.''

Spain outplayed Russia in the second half in Vienna, although Aragones is aware that Germany, with six major tournament wins, will offer a far sterner challenge.

"We weren't doing very well in the first half against Russia but in the second half we were able to play more freely and rediscover our game," he stated.

"We are in the final and the adversary is Germany. It's a hell of a task."

With striker David Villa set to miss the final because of a thigh injury, Arsenal's Fabregas is likely to start the game, having impressed off the bench in the tournament.

"With Cesc we had another midfielder and it was difficult to control," said Aragones.

"I know how well he can perform, he is a great player, like others in our squad.

"Cesc is 21, he and other players have acquired the experience that you might have of an older player.


Interview: Xabi Alonso

"This is something that matters for the 2008 tournament but I'm sure it will matter for the World Cup in two years as well."

Fabregas, who set up Spain's second and third goals against Russia, said their toughest test lay ahead.

"We came here to win the title and the most difficult match is to come," he commented.

"We've had difficult moments but we've shown great mental strength and togetherness. That is the key."

"Will I play in the final? Well Luis Aragones is the boss and I will be there if he needs me."

see also
Virtual replay
27 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Russia 0-3 Spain
26 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Russia v Spain photos
26 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Spain team guide
15 May 08 |  Spain
Pick your Spain XI
23 May 08 |  Spain

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