Boss Guus Hiddink was proud that Russia accepted his challenge to "fight or go home" after a 2-0 victory that left the Sweden coach Lars Lagerbäck "feeling bitter".
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Russia coach Guus Hiddink felt immensely proud of his players after the 2-0 Group D triumph over Sweden which set up a quarter-final showdown with the Netherlands in Basel on Saturday. The outlook was more "bitter" for Sweden boss Lars Lagerbäck, however, after his side failed to get going in Innsbruck, in a game where they needed to avoid defeat.
Guus Hiddink, Russia coach
I am especially proud of my team for their achievements and for the progress we have made in a few days. I told them to fight or go home – they had to make that choice and they chose to fight and play with their hearts and I am proud of them. If you saw the performance tonight and how they tried to get the first goal as soon as possible, it was incredible. The only criticism I can make is that we didn't score enough – we should have punished them with a second goal at the end of the first half and in the second half we had a chance to make it 3-0.
Andrei Arshavin is a player who makes quick decisions and who can create danger. He can turn left or right and knows immediately where the opponent is. He lacked match fitness but the reason I brought him here was that he could make a difference and we were aiming for him to make that difference in this, our last [Group D] game. The Swedes like it when you play with two strikers with their backs to defenders, but they don't like it when you attack their defensive midfield area and we tried to exploit that. [The Netherlands quarter-final] will be a special one because I know the players and their coach [Marco van Basten]. They have the big advantage of five days' rest.
Lars Lagerbäck, Sweden coach
I'd like to congratulate the Russia team. Today they were better than us. We were too passive. During the last five minutes of the first half, we turned things around a little – we tried to lift our game higher into the final third of the pitch. It looked good, too, and that's why we didn't make any substitutions at the break, but then they scored a second soon after the restart. We were playing catch-up with a three-man defence. They were creating chances while we weren't really creating anything. It's very sad as we haven't had this kind of experience since the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands [UEFA EURO 2000™] where we failed to qualify from the group.
I'm disappointed that we didn't get our game going. Maybe there is a mental factor involved that we're not a team that steps up from the very beginning. We lost. It's not a common occurrence but I have a bitter feeling about it. Russia are a good team. Against Spain they didn't show their best qualities but they have a good chance of going further. We gave them a thorough analysis before the match so they didn't surprise us. It wasn't a physical element that lost us the game – it was because they played better than us. We need to start recharging our batteries for the [FIFA] World Cup qualifiers.