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Too late

EURO 2004: Russia get late win.
Russia finally produced the goods after it was mathetically impossible to go through to the quarter-finals. However, Yartsev’s side leaves Portugal with a lost of respect and the general notion that this Russian side can lift some silverware in Germany, 2006.

Line-ups

Russia
Malafeev; Evseev, Sharonov, Anyukov, Bugayev; Radimov, Alenichev, Kariaka, Gusev; Bulykin, Kirichenko

Greece
Nikopolidis; Seitaridis, Venetidis, Dellas, Kapsis; Basinas, Zagorakis, Katsouranis; Charisteas, Vryzas, Papadopoulos

Russia started the game in the Algarve against Greece with a verve and a determination which saw the team steal a two-goal lead within the first 20 minutes. Dmitri Kirichenko broke the UEFA record by scoring the quickest goal ever in a European Championship Finals, within two minutes and Dmitri Bulykin scored the second on 17 minutes.

Kirichenko raced through the panic-struck Greek defence and unleashed a fierce right-foot shot past the helpless Nikopolidis. 1-0.

The final result was established before half time by Zisis Vryzas, meaning that greece go through to the quarter finals with Portugal, while Spain join Russia in the early exit from the competition.

Yartsev had made seven changes to his side, revamping the midfield with Bulykin and Kirichenko playing forward positions, supported by Dmitri Alenichev, with Gusev and Kariaka playing wide on the right and left wings respectively.

The Russian midfield moved fluently and freely, without the complexes or nervousness shown by Greece, who unlike Russia had everything to play for. Alenichev and Gusev were venomous going forward, adding to Greece’s nerves in defence, which saw Russia’s lead double within the 20 minute mark. Gusev, on another of his probing runs, passed to Bulykin, who crashed a header into the top of Nikopolidis’ net. Russia 2 Greece 0.

Kariaka almost added the third after 25 minutes but Greece reduced shortly before the interval, Vryzas chipping over Malafeev after receiving a pass from Papadopoulos.

Greece appeared from the break more determined and continued to attack, with Tsiartas substituting Basinas, a change which almost brought the second goal after 50 minutes, had Malafeev not worked his habitual magical charm in the Russian goal.

Yartsev had brought on Dmitri Sychev and Igor Semshov for Bulykin and Kariaka and Russia came back into the game later on, Kirichenko volloying over the bar and Sychev producing a fine save from Nikopolidis.

Portugal beat Spain 1-0 in the other match in group A with a splendid display of determined, attacking football, proving that Portugal is capable of playing as a team when necessary.

Games

Portugal 1 Greece 2
Spain 1 Russia 0

Portugal 2 Russia 0
Spain 1 Greece 1

Portugal 1 Spain 0
Russia 2 Greece 1

              Pts W  D  L  GF  GA

Portugal  6   2   0   1   4      2
Greece    4   1   1   1   4      4
Spain      4   1   1   1   2      2
Russia    3   1   0    2   2     4

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