Late winning goal fills Villa with pride

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Spain’s 2-1 victory puts the team as top of group D while striker David Villa tops Euro 2008 goalscorers’ list with four.

16 June 2008

INNSBRUCK - Spain goalgetter David Villa said his stoppage-time winner against Sweden made him prouder than scoring his hat-trick in the 4-1 slaying of Russia.

The 2-1 victory put Spain into the quarter-finals as top team in group D as a result of Russia later beating Greece 1-0, with the Valencia striker topping the Euro 2008 goalscorers' list with four.

"To tell you the truth, I am prouder of this goal than of the three I scored in the last game," he said.

"Let's hope I am going on scoring and that the team is going forward. The great thing is to be a group, and I want to help my team."

As top team in group D they will now avoid a meeting with the Netherlands, who are already assured of winning group C after their impressive defeats of France and world champions Italy.

Asked how strong Spain were compared to the Dutch, Villa said: "That's the sort of thing we have to see if we play against them."

Spain coach Luis Aragones said he believed Spain were the better side and deserved their late victory over Sweden.

"In the first part we were really the master of the game. We were fortunate, that's true. Villa made a goal that was nearly impossible.

"I have lots of respect for Sweden. Sweden made a physical game that was strong in the first half. We had a couple of chances, so we should have scored before."

Sweden coach Lars Lagerback said: "Well, obviously this is a bitter way to lose a game. We had many chances in the first half."

Lagerback said had to replace goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic at half-time after the Inter Milan striker suffered a knee problem.

"Zlatan had some pain in his knee. This was the better option than to risk making the injury worse," he said.

Ibrahimovic, whose goal in the 34th minute cancelled out an opening 15th-minute goal by Fernando Torres had an "absolutely first class" game until then, he said.

"We expect Zlatan to play in the next game (against Russia). We need to recharge our batteries in the next days and then play another great game."

[dpa / Expatica]

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