Russia entered their final game needing a win to make it to the quarters, Sweden only needed a draw but would be playing for the win. 2 stats were in either teams way Gus Hiddink has made it passed the group stage in all the teams he has coached vs Sweden progressing from the last 3 major tournaments.
Both sides were boosted by the return of key players, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic overcoming a knee problem to start for Sweden and Russian playmaker Arshavin making his first appearance of the tournament after missing the first two group games through suspension.
Russia took to the field knowing they had to win to progress to the last eight, and they started brightly with Arshavin spraying passes around and causing problems inside Swedish territory.
After 15 minutes Pavlyuchenko drilled a low cross into the Sweden box from the right that Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could not make meaningful contact with, before Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson had to tip an Arshavin cross over the crossbar and Yuri Zhirkov lashed a well-controlled volley wide of the right-hand post from the subsequent corner.
Russia went ahead on 24 minutes thanks to a beautifully constructed goal. Igor Semshov tucked the ball infield to marauding right-back Aleksandr Anyukov from wide on the right, and his low centre was swept home from 12 yards by Pavlyuchenko.
Sweden almost hit back immediately when Larsson saw a looping header bounce off the crossbar, but Russia quickly regained their rhythm, and Pavlyuchenko was inches away from doubling their lead when a right-footed curler struck the right-hand upright, with Konstantin Zyrianov’s headed follow-up being clawed away by Isaksson.
The Sweden keeper then had to push away a long-range effort from Zhirkov, before Lars Lagerback’s men rallied towards the end of the first period, with Freddie Ljungberg and Mikael Nilsson both testing Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal.
But Arshavin put the game beyond the Swedes five minutes into the second half when he tucked home Zhirkov’s low pass from the left after another breathless counter-attack.
As Sweden pushed forward they began to leave huge spaces at the back, and Zyrianov saw a deflected effort from the edge of the box strike the left-hand post, before Pavlyuchenko, twice, and Arshavin spurned good late chances to add further gloss to a memorable Russian performance.
Russis were all over Sweden during this game and really deserved to win by a bigger amount. It was one of those games in which they could of won by more then 5.
Gus has created some magic again getting another seemingly average team through a group stage. They march off to the quarters to face the Netherlands.
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