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Aragonés salutes 'fantastic' Spain

Spain's Luis Aragonés was full of praise for his side's "fantastic" performance against a Russia team whose coach Guus Hiddink was magnanimous in defeat.

Luis Aragonés directs his players to a semi-final triumph
Luis Aragonés directs his players to a semi-final triumph ©Getty Images

Spain coach Luis Aragonés was full of praise for his side's "fantastic" performance after a dominant display against Russia took his team into the final of a major tournament for the first time in 24 years, despite a first-half injury to David Villa. Second-half strikes from Xavi Hernández, substitute Daniel Güiza and David Silva sealed a second three-goal win of UEFA EURO 2008™ against these opponents, whose coach Guus Hiddink was generous in defeat. He also made clear his pride in his side's "tremendous success", although both coaches agreed Spain's short passing game made the difference.

Luis Aragonés, Spain coach
We started playing the kind of football that Russia like – long passes and so on – but when we started touching the ball we were more complete, both attacking and defending. We scored three goals and in a semi-final that's very difficult indeed. We talked it over at half-time and said we had to quicken the pace because we knew if we scored we would hurt them badly, and that's what happened. When Russia tried to attack we were very good too, we kept the ball well. Villa is injured and I don't know whether he'll play in the final, but in any case tonight we played better with one forward than two. It's fantastic the way we're playing. It's better for numbers, players and pressing – and that's how you get Xavi to score. The point is to make them feel free.

I'm not an extrovert but I feel very happy inside. I'm very happy inside for myself, my players, the fans and even my family. I'm not an expressive person, I don't show my feelings so much. I don't celebrate too much when we win or get too depressed when we lose but I'm very happy for the players. They deserve to be champions, but we still have a tough game against Germany ahead. When we came to the tournament we knew we had a good team and could go very far and people have learned. We've had a tough time in some matches but we've always believed in ourselves and we have a great team.

Guus Hiddink, Russia coach
After being defeated we're disappointed, which is very logical. We could live with Spain in the first half and for part of the second, but their plan was to tire us with their very good positional game. That meant our marking was a bit loose in midfield and we ended up chasing our opponents. Then they had the power and the quality to strike, make a hit and score. It was a very deserved win. For an hour we could manage, after that against a team who can play such one-touch football it was very difficult. We lost against a very good opponent; Spain are a very good team.

They can play one-touch football, and knew how to neutralise our danger. In the first half we attacked well without creating much but if they keep on touching the ball in the end the opposition is going to get tired and they know they can score. We couldn't keep on the same level as them, and weren't able to defend well which was their plan. I'm always disappointed after a loss but we can be proud to reach this final stage; it's a tremendous success. Tonight we came up against a very strong team and they deserved the win. I hope they have a good final.