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[Euro 2008] Hiddink’s Legend Grows in Russia’s Upset Win

[Euro 2008] Hiddink’s Legend Grows in Russia’s Upset Win

Posted June. 23, 2008 05:56,   


When the referee blew his whistle ending Russia’s 3-1 upset of the Netherlands Saturday in Euro 2008, Russia Coach Guus Hiddink hopped in joy along with his staff. Rather than feeling sorry for beating the national team of his homeland, the Dutchman instead enjoyed a euphoric moment by hugging his Russian staff and team members.

The victory conjured up memories of Hiddink’s magic performed in the 2002 World Cup with Korea, which advanced to the semifinals that year. This year, the soccer wizard has surprised the world again by getting Russia to the Euro semis.

Hiddink had said he would be happy being labeled a Dutch traitor in the buildup to the match, though later saying the term “traitor” was harsh.

Employing a 4-4-2 formation with Roman Pavlyuchenko far up front and Andrei Arshavin right behind him, the Russians pressed the Dutch to the surprise of many sports commentators. Above all, the Russians’ stamina showed no signs of tapering off. They flew to and from all corners with crushing defense from the midfield, similar to what Korean players showed in the 2002 World Cup.

Just as Hiddink made Park Ji-sung a hero in Korea six years ago, the coach has brought national stardom to Arshavin in Russia. The attacking midfielder covered both flanks and threatened the Dutch throughout the game.

In extra time, Arshavin unleashed a cross to the far left post, where substitute Dmitry Torbinski poked the ball in to give Russia a 2-1 lead in the 112th minute. Then four minutes later, Arshavin sealed the win by blasting a low shot past Dutch goalie Edwin Van Der Sar.

Hiddink said, "I’m extremely proud of the achievement of my team. I have not experienced that very much in my career.”

"I think [Russia] was superior technically in the control in passing but also in physical parts superior to the Dutch team.”

Arshavin praised Hiddink, saying one Dutch coach defeated 11 talented Dutch players.

Allowing Russia the opener in the 56th minute thanks to Pavlyuchenko, the Dutch tied the game on Ruud van Nistelrooy’s header with just four minutes remaining. But the victory ultimately went to Russia thanks to Arshavin’s high-flying performance.