Russia dump out sad Greece

Zyryanov strikes to lift Hiddink's side

Reigning champions Greece crashed out of Euro 2008 as Konstantin Zyryanov secured a deserved 1-0 victory for Russia.

Otto Rehhagel's side, who triumphed against all the odds in Portugal four years ago, head for the exit having lost their opening two Group D games without scoring a single goal.

The only goal of the game came in the 34th minute of an entertaining encounter in Salzburg with Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis largely to blame.

The veteran shot-stopper inexplicably raced from his goal to gather a deep cross, only to be caught out by Sergei Semak's clever overhead kick, which left him stranded as Zyryanov slotted home into an empty net.

Angelos Charisteas missed two glorious opportunities for the fallen champions, missing a free close-range header in the first half and then weakly finding only the hands of Igor Akinfeev at the start of the second.

Russia could, and should, have won by a more comfortable margin, only to fail to convert a number of clear second half chances.


The sounds coming from Otto Rehhagel and the champions were that they wanted to attack, and their formation suggested as much, with the ultra-defensive sweeper system giving way to a flat back four.

But it was impossible to throw caution to the wind when Russia had the ball and looked to attack down the flanks.

Their pressure was almost rewarded in the 14th minute when Zyryanov robbed Angelos Basinas as the Greece skipper dwelt on the ball.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov worked the ball out to Roman Pavlyuchenko, who saw his curling lob aimed to the top corner tipped over by Nikopolidis.

Greece's threats predictably came from set-plays, with Basinas curling a trademark free-kick into the danger zone but Charisteas could not get a head on it, nor could he get a touch on Igor Semshov's clumsy resulting clearance that went just wide.


But the opener came for Russia after 34 minutes, gifted by Nikopolidis.

Bilyaletdinov was fed on the left and his cross looked harmless as it drifted to the far post but Nikopolidis went charging out of his six-yard box and Semak hooked the ball back into the middle where Zyryanov could not miss.

Greece came out fired up in the second half, but it was Pavlyuchenko who twice went close for Russia - firing into the side-netting and then seeing a shot blocked.

Basinas fired over the bar from the penalty spot after Giannis Amantidis headed a deep cross into his path as Greece looked for a leveller, but Russia stood firm and could even afford Pavlyuchenko to miss from 10 yards as Russia hung on.