Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Games 22 & 23: In Guus we Trust

The last day of group play did not disappoint, though the Spain vs. Greece game was a non-issue, the Sweden vs. Russia game took center stage. The Swedes seemed to still be stinging from their last minute defeat to Spain on Saturday, and their age began to become in issue during their third high intensity match. The energy, fearlessness, and momentum that Russia had built up, combined with the tactical and technical brilliance of Guus Hiddink saw them completely dominate Sweden for 90 minutes, and the 2-0 result probably should have been 4 or 5-0 with the amount of chances their side enjoyed. In the 24th minute Roman Pavluchenko opened up the scoring netting a square pass from Sergei Semak past Isaksson; 1-0 Russia. The rest of the first half was fairly even with both sides exchanging chances, but the score remained the same going into halftime. After what had to be an inspiring talk from Hiddink at the half, Russia came out hard and fast for the final 45 minutes, and their work was rewarded in the 50th minute with a great transition goal from the left channel and Andrei Arshavin in his first game back from suspension, made a sliding shot into the lower corner past a diving Isaksson, giving the Russians a 2-0 lead. This was all that Russia needed, as they created many more chances against Sweden, while the Swedes threw everyone forward. Hiddink and his Russians will now take on his native Holland in their quarterfinal match this Saturday.

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