Russia dash Dutch dreams

Van Basten's much-fancied side crash out

Guus Hiddink came out on top against the country of his birth as Russia secured a 3-1 victory over Holland to book their place in the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

It took extra-time to get there as Dmitri Torbinski and Andrei Arshavin netted after Roman Pavlyuchenko's opener had been cancelled out by Ruud van Nistelrooy's late diving header.

The Russians looked fired up from the off and edged a cagey first half as Holland struggled to rekindle the free-flowing, attacking panache which had illuminated their group outings.

Hiddink's side peppered Edwin van der Sar's goal with dangerous long-range efforts throughout the opening period, while Van Nistelrooy spurned a couple of half-chances at the opposite end of the field.

Then, on 56 minutes, Russia finally broke the Dutch resistance as Sergei Semak swung over a cross from the left and Pavlyuchenko crashed home a crisp volley.

That appeared to be enough to send Hiddink's men through, but Van Nistelrooy's 86 minute header forced extra-time.

Russia continued to look like the more likely victors, though, and it came as no surprise when Torbinski bundled home an Arshavin cross with just eight minutes left on the clock.

With the Dutch desperately seeking a second route back into the game their dreams were finally crushed four minutes later when the impressive Arshavin squeezed a low effort through Van der Sar's legs, with the aid of a deflection from Johnny Heitinga.


Russia had their opponents rattled early on, Hiddink's smothering tactics working a gem with Dutch playmakers Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder frozen out.

They settled quicker and had the better of the early chances, Yuri Zhirkov's free-kick drawing a smart save out of Van der Sar and Pavlyuchenko heading wastefully over when free eight yards out.

Holland improved slightly and midway through the first half, Orlando Engelaar fired just wide and Van Nistelrooy somehow failed to get on the end of Van der Vaart's swinging free-kick.

Russia remained dangerous, though, and it was the unlikely source of centre-back Denis Kolodin who almost put them ahead, his first rasping drive tipped over by Van der Sar and another - again from 35 yards - narrowly clearing the crossbar.

Van der Sar was working overtime, pushing away Arshavin's curler with his fingertips, and Marco Van Basten would have walked to the dressing room at half-time slightly concerned.

Denied the luxury of introducing Arjen Robben off the bench - the Real Madrid winger did not take part in the pre-match warm-up because of a slight groin strain - Van Basten instead plucked for Robin van Persie for the second half.

It almost turned out to be a tactical masterstroke, the Arsenal forward - who replaced the ineffective Dirk Kuyt - volleying just off target within seconds of coming on.

Van Persie was then cautioned for use of the elbow but worse was to follow for the Dutch when Pavlyuchenko broke the deadlock.

Semak broke free down the left and crossed low for the Spartak Moscow striker to sidefoot a volley home left-footed.


Holland were behind for the first time this tournament, and their title credentials were being firmly put to the test.

Van Persie was still plugging away though, driving a shot over, heading Van der Vaart's corner wide and then spooning a free-kick over after Kolodin was booked for fouling Van Nistelrooy.

That means the defender will now miss the semi-final.

In a tense last 10 minutes, substitute Torbinski should have wrapped it up for Russia but he did not get decent purchase on a lay-off by Zhirkov, who may have been better off shooting instead.

And they were made to pay when Van Nistelrooy took the game into extra-time, heading home Sneijder's free-kick at the far post from close range in the 86th minute.

A key decision came with seconds left in stoppage time. Kolodin thought he had received his second yellow card for bringing down Sneijder - but the assistant referee spared the 26-year-old by signalling the ball had earlier gone out of play.

So to extra-time it went, and after Arshavin had shot wastefully over, Pavlyuchenko struck the crossbar with a fierce effort from the angle.

Russia continued to hold the upper hand, their superior fitness telling, and Torbinski's close-range effort was weak with just Van der Sar to beat in the 98th minute.

The second half was a similar story, the Russians swarming all over the Dutch but they could not find the cutting edge until Torbinski tapped home Arshavin's deft far-post cross.

Arshavin then scored the killer third by turning his marker and slipping home a deflected shot through Van der Sar's legs.