Russia beat Sweden to reach Euro quarter-finals (Lead)June 19th, 2008 - 7:36 am ICT by IANS
Innsbruck (Austria), June 19 (DPA) Russia set up an intriguing quarter-final with the Netherlands at Euro 2008 after they outplayed Sweden 2-0 Wednesday to pip them to second spot in group D. Roman Pavlyuchenko finished off a superb move to put Russia ahead on 24 minutes and Andrei Arshavin scored the second five minutes into the second half to complete victory for Guus Hiddink’s side.
Veteran striker Henrik Larsson denied that the Swedes, the oldest team on average at the tournament, had run out of steam, but admitted they had been second best on the night.
“No, not old legs, old team, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
“I think we started very well, in the first ten minutes, passed the ball and moved the ball well.
“But after that I don’t know what happened, we dropped back, they got space and they got 1-0 which is always difficult to come back from. Then we were going forward and leave room at the back, which is natural.
“We have a good team but we did not play well today.”
It’s the first time that Russia have reached the last eight of an international event since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
The Swedes went into the match needing only a draw to advance to the last eight but they were thoroughly outplayed by a slick Russian team growing in confidence after their opening match defeat by Spain.
Arshavin had three good chances to put Russia ahead in the first 15 minutes, heading wide and then misfiring when in a promising position, while Yuri Zhirkov smashed a volley just past the post.
Sweden could not cope with the movement of the Russia side and it was only a matter of time before they conceded.
Igor Semshov broke down the right and after he found Aleksandr Anyukov, Pavlyuchenko finished it off with aplomb.
Sweden were creating little but they held Russia out until the break, but five minutes into the second half, they were two down, with Arshavin putting Zhirkov through on the left and then getting into the box to finish it off.
Sweden huffed and puffed and Ibrahimovic missed a good headed chance, but as they pushed forward in a bid to get back into the match, they left big holes at the back.
Russia’s margin of victory could and should have been more, but Pavlyuchenko and Arshavin wasted great opportunities late on as they settled for a 2-0 win.
Spain, who came from behind to beat Greece 2-1 in Salzburg, won the group with nine points, while Russia have six. Sweden finished with three points, with defending champions Greece last after three defeats.
Russia will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, while Spain face Italy.
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