Russia-Netherlands 3-1

 Unbelievable.

Russia, the team which – despite its recent form – had to be considered the underdog in this, its biggest match in years, pulled off a stunning victory over tournament favourites the Netherlands, to move into the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

The Dutch looked somewhat unsettled even at the beginning of the match, especially after Zhirkov whistled a free kick that took a real effort from van der Sar to tip away.  Kolodin looked intent on proving that he’s got a cannon in place of a leg, blasting two wicked shots from 30 and 40 yards, respectively (again, van der Sar had to be very sharp to tip the first one over the  bar.)  The Dutch weren’t completely inactive either, with van Nistelrooy very nearly opening the scoring, but inexplicably failing to get his foot on a pass into the goal area.  Sneijder also had a couple of chances, as did van Persie. 

Russia opened the scoring when captain Semak fired a quick pass into the area, onto which Pavlyuchenko stabbed his boot, sending a low ball past van der Sar, the latter left with no chance to save.  For a long time, it looked as though the game might just end that way, although the Dutch definitely stepped up their attack, forcing the Russians into some scrambled clearances.  With almost no time left in the match, Sneijder sent a free kick diagonally into the Russian goal area and, this time, van Nistelrooy broke away from his marker to send a low header into the net.  1-1 and extra time!

 But there was to be no comeback victory for the Dutch.  Arshavin (the hero again,) set up a fairly simple goal for Torbinsky to make it 2-1, before finishing off the night with his own left-footed goal from close in.  A HUGE win for the “better, brighter, brilliant Russians.”

There are lots of theories as to why Russia is showing itself to be a football power to be reckoned with at Euro 2008.  My own is that Russia has sent a young team with plenty of talent, and that Guus Hiddink, the self-proclaimed “happiest traitor” has instilled in them self-belief and an attacking, total football, fear-nothing approach.  Whatever he’s done, it’s working.  His efforts notwithstanding, the kudos must really go to the players themselves:  they’ve been terrific.

And now they’re going to have the chance to wipe out the shame of their opening 1-4 loss to Spain.  Spain beat Italy on penalties last night, in what I found to be a match of unsurpassed boredom, with both teams seemingly terrified of throwing caution to the wind and attacking like they meant it.

As much as I like the Dutch and their team, at least now I can devote my complete and undivided attention to cheering for Russia.

ВПЕРЁД РОССИЯ!!

P.S.  Are the Russians and the Turks the story of Euro 2008?  The brave Croats found, to their dismay, that the Turks can never be counted out, as the latter scored with seconds left in extra time to send the match to a penalty shootout.  The Croats looked totally crestfallen and it showed, as they only managed to pot one of their chances, leaving the Turks in partying mood.

And what about Turkish reserve goalkeeper Rustu?  Is that man the coolest cucumber you’ve ever seen, or what?

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One Response to “Russia-Netherlands 3-1”

  1. » Russia-Netherlands 3-1 3 Some: What The World Is Saying About 3 Some Says:

    […] Russia-Netherlands 3-1 For a long time, it looked as though the game might just end that way, although the Dutch definitely stepped up their attack, forcing the Russians into some scrambled clearances. With almost no time left in the match, Sneijder sent a … […]

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