Andrés Iniesta felt Spain's first final appearance in 24 years was just reward for a dominant performance as the Iberians swept Russia aside 3-0 in their UEFA EURO 2008™ semi-final in Vienna. "It's incredible," he said. "What a great feeling."
Called 'El Anti-Galáctico' by the Catalan media because of his modest character, the FC Barcelona playmaker proved the antithesis of that by outshining Russia's much-lauded attacking players to earn the Carlsberg Man of the Match award. Having played a lead role in Xavi Hernández's opener and David Silva's late third – Daniel Güiza putting the result beyond doubt in between – Iniesta said of his display: "The most important thing is that we're in the final; we wanted it so much and this is the reward for everybody. We all worked as a team, achieving our goal is not just about one player. We're delighted to have booked our place."
Russia coach Guus Hiddink was typically gracious in defeat, highlighting "the movement of the Spain midfield" as the key to his side's downfall. Iniesta was at the heart of that, linking superbly with club-mate Xavi and the impressive Marcos Senna throughout. "Yes, we performed very well and basically dominated the match," said the 24-year-old of that axis. Iniesta won European honours twice with Spain's sparkling youth teams, and was also in the Barcelona side which defeated Arsenal FC in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final, yet admits Sunday's showpiece against Germany will be the match of his life. "It's not going to be easy," he added, "but we've got so far and hope to win it now."
Jean-Paul Brigger of the UEFA Technical Team – who selected the Man of the Match award after viewing the online vote on euro2008.com – said of Iniesta's display: "His movement was fantastic. He was involved in every attack as the playmaker and the Russians had a real problem dealing with him. He played a fantastic pass for the first goal and was involved in the third with a lovely pass to Cesc Fàbregas in the build-up. From our side he was the best player on the pitch. Congratulations to Spain who are a really big team, and also to Russia who played a fantastic tournament."
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