Russia 2 Sweden 0: Arshavin attacks with style to give Sweden no quarter

Maybe Steve McClaren deserves some sympathy after all. And not just for his floundering as a radio summariser. Russia produced a sensational performance last night to join Croatia in the last eight of the European Championships. Both were in England's group for the qualification campaign which cost McClaren his job. But then maybe he, like many others, was guilty of simply underestimating such opponents.

The Russians were brilliantly orchestrated by their returning hero Andrei Arshavin who was free of suspension having missed the first two group games. He didn't regain the captaincy but led his country with verve and skill. The man from Zenit St Petersburg was at his zenith. "That's why I took him in this squad," said coach Guus Hiddink, whose richly-deserved reputation received further enhancement. "He can make a difference. He made things happen."

He did indeed. Russia were transformed and, with it, they reached the knock-out stages, while Sweden failed to progress, having done so in their last three competitions under Lars Lagerback who professed to being "bitter" at his team's limp performance.

There will be retirements – Henrik Larsson could go, but denied it, while Fredrik Ljungberg and Olof Mellberg may follow – but Lagerback claimed no one had told him they were quitting. They appeared to be in their bath chairs at times last night as the Russians, so quick and nimble of thought and foot, ran rings around them. All afternoon helicopters full of Moscow's great and good, Roman Abramovich rumoured to be among them, swooped low into Innsbruck. The whole parade will now whiz along to Basle for a quarter-final with the Netherlands that will mean much to Hiddink and should be a feast of attacking football.

There was plenty on show and Arshavin, who missed two early chances, ran it. Raking passes and dangerous crosses soon became intricate, incisive moves and mid-way through the first-half they swept forward for Aleksandr Anyukov to pull the ball back. Roman Pavlyuchenko calmly stroked it home. Stung, the Swedes almost hit back immediately when Henrik Larsson cleverly met Mikael Nilsson's deep cross only for his header to ping off the bar. But they were out-manoeuvred by the Russians.

Still Igor Akinfeev had to block from Larsson and Nilsson, and recover quickly as Peter Hansson threatened to poke the ball in from a free-kick after the goalkeeper fumbled. But Russia were dominant and struck again, pouring forward, with Yuri Zhirkov squaring from the left for Arshavin to easily beat Isaksson with a low shot.

Sweden were shredded. They threw on more strikers but it was Russia who shuddered the woodwork again through Zyryanov's shot before Isaksson denied Arshavin. But there is a new star in the firmament of this tournament.

Russia (4-1-3-1-1): Akinfeev; Anyukov, Kolodin, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Semak; Zyryanov, Semshov, Bilyaletdinov (Saenko, 66); Arshavin; Pavlyuchenko (Bystrov, 90).

Sweden (4-4-2); Isaksson; Stoor, Mellberg, Hansson, M Nilsson (Allback, 79); Elmander, Svensson, Andersson (Kallstrom, 56), Ljungberg; Ibrahimovic, H Larsson.

Referee: F De Bleeckere (Belgium).

Man of the match: Arshavin.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness