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Spain beat Sweden 2-1

sports Updated: Jun 15, 2008 01:57 IST

AP
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Euro 2008 produced yet more last-gasp drama on Saturday when tournament top scorer David Villa netted in stoppage time to give Spain a 2-1 win over Sweden and put them on the verge of the quarter-finals.

The teams had looked to be settling for a 1-1 draw that would have still left both well placed in Group D ahead of the later game between holders Greece and Russia until Villa broke clear to expertly put away his fourth goal of the tournament.

Villa also hit a hat-trick in their opening 4-1 win over Russia on Tuesday.

There have now been seven goals scored in stoppage time from 15 matches so far.

Fernando Torres had given Spain an early lead with a goal that meant every team in the June 7-29 tournament hosted by Switzerland and Austria have now conceded at least one.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored a cracker in Sweden's opening 2-0 win over Greece, levelled later in the first half.

Greece are the only team in the tournament not to have scored -- albeit from only one game -- but if they fail to win later in Salzburg (1845 GMT kick-off) then Spain will advance along with already-qualified Portugal, Croatia and Netherlands.

A second defeat for Greece would send the holders out.

Halftime in the later match on Saturday represents the exact halfway mark in the 31-game tournament.

Unexpected results

The first eight days have certainly produced some excellent football and unexpected results, not least in Friday's action, and the fallout from Group C was widespread and varying.

Dutch fans and neutrals were purring in appreciation of the Netherlands' performance in their 4-1 thrashing of France, with comparisons to the "Total Football" of the 1970s and the 1988 European Championship-winning team proving irresistible.

Even Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was caught up in the euphoria, saying that he told the players he was keeping his diary free for June 29 -- the day of the final.

More than 7.4 million of the country's population of 16 million watched the game on TV and another 150,000 were in Berne, where police reported only a few arrests for minor incidents after a long night of celebrations.

It was "woe is us" in Italy and France, however, where complaints about penalties -- one given against Italy, and saved, and one not given to France after a hopeful handball appeal -- were high among the disgruntlements.

Despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Romania, world champions Italy remain in the competition and could still reach the quarter-finals with a meagre two points such are the myriad possible outcomes from the group's final round.

Romania, who have reminded everyone that there are more than the "big three" in the so-called toughest group C, are very much still in the hunt and could also advance with a draw.

They suffered a setback, however, with the confirmation that midfielder Mirel Radoi needs facial surgery and will miss the rest of the tournament after his sickening collision with team mate Razvan Rat during Friday's game.

Interest in the tournament is extending beyond the 16 countries involved with UEFA reported that Britain, which failed to get any of its four teams into the finals, is providing the most users of the official website, which is showing a five-fold percent increase in hits from 2004.

Tournament organisers also brushed off the latest round of speculation about the 2012 event, which suggested that Spain might step in as hosts if Poland and Ukraine continue to struggle with their building and stadium redevelopment work.

The final round of group fixtures begins on Sunday when Turkey and Czech Republic meet in Geneva (1845) to fight it out for second place in Group A. A draw would produce the first shootout to decide a group game in a major tournament.

Portugal, already assured of top spot, play eliminated co-hosts Switzerland in Basel at the same time.