Russian newspapers voiced their delight Thursday with their national team winning a Euro 2008 quarter-final berth for the first time in over 20 years.
“Thank you, (coach Guus) Hiddink! Even his compatriots did not expect in vain that he would bring Russia into quarter-finals,” the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta exulted in a frontpage report headlined “We broke through the Swedish wall.”
Russia beat Sweden 2-0 at Innsbruck, Austria on Wednesday to earn a spot in the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first since the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
They will play Holland in the quarter-final in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday — a repeat to a certain extent of the 1988 final when present Dutch coach Marco van Basten scored in the 2-0 victory over the Soviets.
Hiddink, also Dutch, guided Holland to the 1998 World Cup semi-finals where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout.
“Now, Dutch, you tremble!” Rossiyskaya Gazeta added.
“The wait is over!” the Sport Express daily screamed at the top of its frontpage, adding its faith that “now we can wait impatiently for what will come, because this team will never again be afraid.”
“It can lose, but it will never surrender. Least of all to the country that bore the man that presented us with this magical evening, and, we hope, will make many more such presents,” the daily wrote.
Thousands of Russian fans flooded the streets late Wednesday, screaming and honking their delight and even briefly blocking Moscow's chief thoroughfare Tveskaya Street before dispersing at the request of police.
“We go on!” the Sovetsky Sport daily echoed, its commentator recalling wistfully the last time he saw Russia enter the Euro quarter-finals in 1988.
“Who would have said then that it would be the last serious tournament that would see us win out of the group,” Sergei Pryakhin recalled of the first big match he saw in his life.
“But let us not fall into euphoria. Not now, at least. We have only made the first step toward catching up with the rest of the world, which has gone far ahead of us since 1988,” Sovetsky Sport warned
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