Fernando Santos said that his Greece team's rediscovery of the defensive focus missing from their first two matches was the key to their decisive Group A win over Russia.
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Greece coach Fernando Santos hailed the focus and discipline that earned his team a victory that evoked memories of their triumphant 2004 campaign – and, moreover, carried them into the quarter-finals. As for beaten Russia coach Dick Advocaat, he lamented his side's lack of sharpness in front of goal.
Fernando Santos, Greece coach
We are very happy, very satisfied. We dedicate this victory to Avraam [Papadopoulos], the injured player not with us right now, and to all Greeks. It was all about our focus – it was our focus and concentration that decided the result. We should have played our previous matches with the same concentration.
We finally found this ingredient which is characteristic of our team, we had a clear plan, we had to be disciplined and we managed to see it through. From the first moment we were focused, we didn't allow them opportunities to exploit their strengths. I would like to congratulate all the players for all their efforts – this match was very difficult, they gave everything, if not more, to get us through.
I have told the players that I completely trust them. Whenever Greece have been in a difficult position and needed a win, as against Croatia in qualifying, this is when the character of the team, of the players, emerges, and the response was fantastic.
Russia are a very strong team but I'd noticed they need a lot of space, especially in the final third, to create chances so the first thing we wanted to do was concentrate on our own half, and not let them exploit their ability there. After that, whenever we had the ball we wanted to try and exploit the openings in their defence because both [Aleksandr] Anyukov and [Yuri] Zhirkov were attack-minded and they left some space for us. We managed that at one point but it wasn't easy all the time.
Dick Advocaat, Russia coach
We played quite well, we went forward and the other team just defended. It's true we conceded a goal but in the first half we played well. In the second half against a team like Greece, it was hard to play. They were leading at half-time and they are just masters at doing what they did today. Up front we maybe didn't have that sharpness to get a goal but in the first half they went forward once.
When you concede a goal you have 45 minutes to put it right, it just didn't happen today – it is hard to say why. The full-backs went up, we had three players up front, but you need the sharpness, and it just didn't work out. We tried to control the game, we tried to decide the game, we probably had the ball for 44 minutes [in the first half]. Even though we lost, we played a brilliant first half, then they got the goal and it's a totally different story.
We played well, but you need to score goals. That's what we did in the first game, but despite all the possession, today that's what we didn't do. I worked very hard with my staff to have a very good team. We were undefeated in 16 games and were not fortunate today; we should have won it but that's football and congratulations to Greece.