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The national teams of Russia and Croatia play the opening UEFA EURO 2008 Group E qualifier (0-0) in Moscow September 6.
Photo: Ilya Pitalev
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Sep. 07, 2006
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Guus Hiddink Not Counted
Even haunted by losses of key players, Croatia frustrated Guus Hiddink debut as the Russian coach. The football squad of our country came up with a goalless draw at the opening UEFA EURO 2008 Group E qualifier played at the home Lokomotiv stadium in Moscow September 6. So far, Russia has never progressed to Europe or world championships after the loss of the starting scores.
For Hiddink, the Croats would have been a brilliant chance for victorious beginning. Indeed, the Russians will never again see the team so weak in terms of the players this season. As much as six leaders of Croatias football, including Darijo Srna, Ivica Olić and Boško Balaban, didnt play that day because of the wounds, disqualification or dismissal from the team for breaking the discipline.

But the Russians were too tame even for remaining Croats, at least the first half was a disaster. In strength, the Russian team was very similar to the team that opposed Latvia in a friendly match. But the performance was different.

The situation improved when Hiddink sent his most fortunate striker, Pavel Pogrebnyak, instead of Poman Pavlyuchenko. With Pogrebnyak on the field, Andrey Arshavin became bolder. The pair fired twice threatening the goals, but was not accurate enough.

But the main point was pushing to gate the Croats, who had dominated before. It was clear once again the Russians were able to pressurize. But having survived ten minutes of panic, the Croats moved the battle away from their penalty area and staged a couple of attacks. Klasnic, for instance, sent an acrobatic ball, which even touched the goal post.

The Russians were desperately attacking in the end. But neither the chaotic final agitation, nor ten minutes of advantage coupled with all chances missed by Arshavin changed the impression of the first official match coached by Hiddink. The debut was a bitter disappointment actually.

www.kommersant.com

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 07, 2006

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