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Hiddink Still Working His Magic

Posted November. 23, 2007 04:01,   


The “magic of Hiddink” is still alive.

The Russian national soccer team, managed by Guus Hiddink, miraculously qualified for the 2008 European Football Championships yesterday. In the same group, England did not.

Russia, managed by Hiddink for two years, beat Andorra 1-0 in the last Group E qualifier match yesterday to dramatically resuscitate itself from a pinch.

On the other hand, England lost to Croatia. England could have potentially qualified with only a draw, but the loss drove them out of the championship.

Croatia moved on the finals in first place in the group with nine wins, two draws and one loss (29 points), and Russia followed with seven wins, three draws and two losses (24 points). England placed third with seven wins, two draws and three losses (23 points), trailing Russia by one point.

Russia lost its previous game to Israel and was third in the group and facing disqualification. But in the 39th minute of Russia’s last match, striker Dmitri Sychev headed in a cross by Dmitri Torbinski to win the match. Russia was undermanned due to Andrei Arshavin’s exit in the 84th minute, but successfully held off Andorra’s offense for the remaining time and preserved the victory.

England trailed 2-0 early after Croatians Niko Kranjcar and Ivica Olic scored goals in the 8th and 14th minutes of the game, respectively. But in the second half, England midfielder Frank Lampard’s penalty goal in the 56th and striker Peter Crouch’s tying goal in the 65th brought England back. But Croatia’s Mladen Petric scored the winning goal in the 77th minute to push the English team out of the championship. In other action, Turkey qualified from Group C, and Sweden qualified from Group F.