Classy Russia squeeze out Netherlands in EURO 2008 quarter-finals
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Netherlands 1-3 Russia (aet)
Russia reached their first semi-final after Dmitri Torbinski and Andrey Arshavin netted in the last eight minutes.
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Dmitri Torbinski and Andrey Arshavin struck in the last eight minutes of extra time to take Russia into the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals at the expense of the Netherlands as Guus Hiddink eliminated the nation of his birth.
From the off, Russia never allowed Marco van Basten's previously imperious side space and they attacked with vigour. Roman Pavlyuchenko's 56th-minute volley seemed to have won the game but with four minutes remaining Ruud van Nistelrooy headed an equaliser. However, Russia dominated the additional half-hour and the tireless Arshavin set up substitute Torbinski to restore the advantage from close range in the 112th minute. The No10 added another himself to book a semi-final against Spain or Italy in Vienna on Thursday, although Torbinski and Denis Kolodin will miss that match through suspension.
Having rested most of his first-choice lineup in Tuesday's win against Romania, Van Basten returned to the selection that started the impressive defeats of Italy and France, Arjen Robben's hopes scuppered by continuing groin problems. It was Russia, beginning as positively as Hiddink had promised, who had the first chance when Yuri Zhirkov's free-kick forced Edwin van der Sar into a diving save and Igor Semshov then crossed from the right for Pavlyuchenko to head over. Russia's outnumbered fans made most of the early noise as the Netherlands took time to get to grips with their opponents' pressing game, although Van Nistelrooy did nearly get a decisive touch on Rafael van der Vaart's free-kick.
Suddenly the Netherlands started to produce the flowing football that lit up their group games in Berne, and their supporters responded accordingly. But if many Dutch players were fresh after sitting out the Romania match, Arshavin was also relatively rested having been suspended for the first two games and from a solo run he forced Van der Sar to save. The goalkeeper then tipped over Kolodin's ferocious shot before the Netherlands attacked again at the other end as Khalid Boulahrouz, whose late baby daughter was remembered by his team-mates' black armbands, sent Van Nistelrooy through for an effort that Igor Akinfeev blocked.
Russia looked sharper as the second half got under way, Arshavin nearly scoring with a swerving free-kick, and a minute later Sergei Semak sent in a cross from the left that Pavlyuchenko gleefully turned in. Russia were allowing the Netherlands little of the ball and attacking at pace, Van der Sar using instinct and one hand to keep out an Aleksandr Anyukov strike. The goalkeeper also saved when Pavlyuchenko was put through while Torbinski was unfortunate not to turn the ball in soon after. It seemed the Oranje's campaign was over but with four minutes left Wesley Sneijder curled in a free-kick for Van Nistelrooy to head in and force an extra half-hour.
Russia were unbowed, Semshov forcing a diving stop from Van der Sar while Arshavin blazed over and Pavlyuchenko's dipping shot was only kept out by the crossbar. Arshavin then burst through and crossed for Torbinski, only for Van der Sar to block again. The second extra period continued in the same vein, Pavlyuchenko just failing to turn in Arshavin's cross but finally the breakthrough came when the FC Zenit St Petersburg playmaker delivered another looping centre for Torbinski to volley in. Four minutes later Arshavin sealed a semi-final place with the goal his play deserved as his shot deflected in off John Heitinga, confirming that the Netherlands would follow fellow group winners Portugal and Croatia home.
Netherlands: Van der Sar (c); Van Bronckhorst, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Boulahrouz (Heitinga 54),; Sneijder, Engelaar (Afellay 62), Van der Vaart, De Jong, Kuyt (Van Persie 46); Van Nistelrooy
Substitutes: Timmer, Stekelenburg, De Zeeuw, Robben, Melchiot, Bouma, De Cler, Huntelaar, Vennegoor of Hesselink
Coach: Marco van Basten
Russia: Akinfeev; Zhirkov, Kolodin, Ignashevich, Anyukov; Saenko (Torbinski 81), Semak (c), Semshov (Bilyaletdinov 69), Zyryanov; Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko (Sychev 115)
Substitutes: Gabulov, Malafeev, Vasili Berezutski, Yanbaev, Aleksei Berezutski, Adamov, Ivanov, Shirokov, Bystrov
Coach: Guus Hiddink
Referee: Ľuboš Micheľ (Slovakia)
Man of the Match: Andrei Arshavin (Russia)