Welcome back, everyone, for the second semi-final match in Euro 2008, Russia against Spain. Yesterday we saw (and I use that term loosely) Germany tally the game-winning goal in the 90th minute as they edged past Turkey, 3-2, and advanced to the final.
In group play, Spain thrashed Russia, 4-1, just a little more than two weeks ago. But since then, the two sides have taken different paths: while the Spanish attack has slowed (see: no goals in their PK-win over Italy), the Russians have increased their attacks, and now have all the momentum on their side.
Today's match will feature some of the more exciting players of Euro 2008, Spain's David Villa, who recorded a hat-trick in the win over Russia in group action, and Russia's Andrei Arshavin, who has quickly established himself as the top young player of this tournament, and will no doubt create a bidding frenzy for his services among the European club teams.
5:00pm - Finally, video of Spain's third and final goal. Also, just in: David Villa is OUT for Sunday's final.
4:38pm - Video of Spain's second goal.
4:37pm - And the final whistle blows. Spain 3, Russia 0. Sunday's final of Germany and Spain promises to be entertaining. Thanks for joining us today! The videos of Spain's last two goals are coming shortly.
4:32pm - Spain hasn't lost a match in nearly two years.
4:31pm - Including their match in group play, Spain has now outscored Russia 7-1 in this tournament.
4:26pm - GOAL!!! That's gonna do it -- Spain just went up 3-0 here with less than 10 minutes to play. David Silva gathered a great centering pass on a counter attack and then drilled it into the left side of the next. It'll be Spain and Germany on Sunday for the final of Euro 2008.
4:18pm - GOAL!!! Spain has just made it 2-0! Fabregas chipped the ball up and over the back line of Russia's defense right to Daniel Güiza, who finishes it from there. That might have just stamped Spain's ticket to the finals!
4:17pm - In the 73rd minute now, and Russia still is struggling to put a good scoring chance together. Also, Torres is out for Spain.
4:10pm - Free kick there for Russia, from a threatening position, but it finds the wall and bounds away.
4:08pm - As promised, video of Spain's goal.
4:03pm - Spain still with the one goal advantage, but they're looking to double that with constant pressure. Video of their goal coming soon.
3:54pm - GOAL!!! Can I say I called it? Unreal goal there by Spain -- Andres Iniesta turns and sends a ball in the box, and out of no where, Xavi flies in and one-times it past the keeper off the edge of his foot. It's 1-0, Spain.
3:53pm - The rain really seemed to affect play in the first 45 minutes. Hopefully, we see some more forward attacking now.
3:49pm - It was told to me that my updates hadn't bee going up for the past half-hour. I'll assume one of the intertubes was clogged. Anyways, we just started up here in the second half.
3:34pm - And that's the whistle. It's 0-0 between Russia and Spain at the half, with neither side getting many great goal-scoring chances. During the half, feel free to read about Shawn Chacon choking his GM, John Daly golfing with Kid Rock and how the Russian players will be rewarded if they score a goal today.
3:32pm - Quickly approaching stoppage time here...Spain's just earned a free-kick.
3:27pm - Forgot to mention: David Villa, the high-scoring striker for Spain, had to leave with an injury. He's been replaced by Fabregas.
3:24pm - A nice change of direction there by Spain's Ramos, who lines up a shot, but it rolls harmlessly wide-right.
3:18pm - Pavluchenko with a another great chance for Russia, trying to bend it in, but the ball glides just past the right post. Still 0-0, now in the 32nd minute.
3:14pm - Spain continues to control the overall pace of this match, but still have nothing to show for it.
3:08pm - In the 22nd minute now...the rain continues to just pour down.
3:03pm - Free-kick coming for Russia...Pavluchenko blasts it on net and it sails JUST high over the crossbar. Good chance there for the Russians.
2:59pm - An answer as to why Spain considers their yellow jerseys unlucky: "The superstition surrounding yellow colour is thought to have arisen because French playwright Moliere was said to have worn a yellow dress when he collapsed on stage performing Le Malade Imaginaire in 1673. He later passed away at his home."
2:56pm - What's with "Seven Nation Army" being hummed by the whole crowd at random moments in these matches? It happened yesterday in the Germany-Turkey contest, and it's going on here today, too.
2:54pm - Spain applying some pressure there, but in the end, a Torres shot was easily pushed aside by the Russian keeper, Akinfeev.
2:48pm - And we're underway!
2:46pm - Spain has opted to again leave Fabregas on the bench for the start tonight. The national anthems are over, and both sides have read their message against racism. We're just minutes away from the start now.
2:37pm - It's rainy today, and Spain is in their unlucky yellow jerseys (or, "kits" in soccer speak). Why are they unlucky? Anyone know?
2:30pm - Russia could be in trouble today: center back Denis Kolodin, who helped to lead the Russian defense after the embarrassing loss to Spain, will have to miss today's match because of yellow card accumulation. Fortunately for Russian fans, the players have quite the incentive today: the players will be given two girls for each goal they score today.