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Match Report: Netherlands vs Russia

Russia entered the match full of confidence after completly outplaying Sweden but they knew they were up against it in this game against the Netherlands.

The first half of this game was very much Russia’s they dominated possesion but couldn’t put the ball in the net on the other hand the Netherlands didn’t produce as much of there usual counter atttack and only looked dangerous from set pieces.

Yuri Zhirkov went close with a sixth-minute free-kick that Edwin Van der Sar was forced to touch behind for a corner, from which Russia had successive chances from Denis Kolodin and Pavlyuchenko. The Netherlands had the next two opportunities, through Orlando Engelaar’s drive wide and a Van Nistelrooy miss when Rafael van der Vaart sent a brilliant free-kick to the far post.

Van der Sar was called into action again when he made a great low save after playmaker Arshavin tricked his way into a shooting position, while the corner that followed was cleared to Kolodin, who hammered a ridiculous shot from 35 yards that Van der Sar again kept out. Kolodin a few minutes later launched another rocket but just missed it going past the post.

The Dutch were ralling to try and produce some of their group form and almost exposed a vulnerable Russian defence. Kolodin who was attacking strongly left his defencive duties behind which almost let Van Nistelrooy in before he handed a chance on a plate to Van der Vaart, who was denied by keeper Igor Akinfeev.

So both teams went into half time at 0-0 with Guus Hiddink’s Russia looking very strong against a unbelievable poor Netherlands after their group form. Van Basten decided to make a half time change and brought Robin van Persie on for the ineffectual Dirk Kuyt.

Only 11 minutes into the second half Russia struck: Arshavin played a cute pass into Sergei Semak on the left, who whipped in a superb cross to Pavlyuchenko who atoned for his early miss with a simple finish past the helpless Van der Sar. With a 1-0 lead Russia looked in the prime position even if there was 3 quarters of the half left because they just kept attacking having plenty of near misses keeping Van der Sar busy.

Netherlands huffed and puffed but Russia were holding firm, and a long-range effort from Wesley Sneijder was the closest they came to levelling.

But it all changed with only 4 minutes to go, Russia who had looked so strong and could of even been up by more than 1 goal conceded from? what other than a set piece there major weakness on the night. But with four minutes left, Russia’s inability to defend set pieces was finally exploited. From the left wing, Real Madrid midfielder Sneijder swung a dangerous free-kick into the box to which Russia’s back four got nowhere near. They also failed to track Van Nistelrooy, who flew in with a diving far-post header to make it 1-1.

A moment of luck for Russia in injury time, Kolodin was shown a second yellow for a foul on Sneijder, but the double-whammy of going down to ten men and having to defend another free-kick was cancelled by the assistant referee, who told Slovakian whistle-blower Lubos Michel that the ball had gone out of play moments before the challenge.

So this match was headed for extra time Russia played better for 90% of the match but it doesn’t matter in football Turkey is an example. Netherlands should be the fresher team after having 5 days off compared to Russia’s 3 but this wouldn’t be such a big factor.

Russia’s playmaker Arshavin went close in the opening minutes of extra time followed by Pavlyuchenko effort which hit the bar and post and somehow stayed out.

Extra time was quickly becoming an all Russian attack with Russia missing many more chances they just couldn’t find the net. But their class player Arshavin who missed the group games set up a goal: Arshavin raced down the left and swung a brilliantly-improvised far post lob to Torbinskiy who – having just been booked and ruled out of the semi – somehow flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot, from an impossible angle, to beat Van der Sar.

So Russia were 2-1 up but they wern’t finished yet, Arshavin ran on from a quick throw, snuck behind the Dutch defence to drill a low shot under Van der Sar with four minutes of extra-time remaining.

Russia won 3-1 and deserved it they are off to the semi final to play either Italy or Spain and as all the underdogs have won the quarters Italy must become favorates for their game.

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