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Netherlands v Russia (UEFA Euro 2008)

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UEFA Euro 2008
St Jakob-Park.jpg
The St. Jakob-Park hosted the match
EventUEFA Euro 2008
After extra-time
Date21 June 2008
VenueSt. Jakob-Park, Basel
RefereeĽuboš Micheľ (Slovakia)

The Netherlands v Russia match was a UEFA Euro 2008 encounter between the Netherlands and Russia. It was hosted in St. Jakob-Park in the city of Basel, Switzerland.

Russia emerged victoriously 3–1 in what would be known as the biggest shock in the competition, given Russia's declining football status and the Netherlands' high football profile in the tournament, and the Netherlands' dominant performance in the group stage.[1]


Russia and the Netherlands had very different routes on their qualification campaigns. The Netherlands and Russia both only finished second, however the Netherlands' campaign was mostly smooth, with the only opponent turned to be Romania.[2] On the other hand, Russia had to thank Croatia for shocking England in the final game held in London to eliminate the English side in process and Russia took the second spot thanked for a 1–0 win over minnows Andorra.[3] Russia's successful qualification was considered as a major qualification shock in the competition, given Russia had failed to qualify for 2006 FIFA World Cup earlier.

In the two countries' group stage participation, Russia was drawn into group D, where they had to face two strong Spanish and Swedish sides, both participated in 2006 World Cup before, along with already declining then-European champions Greece. Russia was easily crushed by Spain 1–4 in the beginning, before salvaged some pride with a 1–0 win over Greece, but stood behind Sweden by goal difference.[4][5] As many people started to think that Russia would have to go home early as usual and that Sweden would be about to enter the last eight, the Russians created the first shock in the tournament, convincingly smashed Sweden 2–0 to book the last quarter-final ticket at the expense of Swedish side.[6]

Group C was where the Dutch settled everything very smoothy. The Dutch side emerged victoriously in all three games, in what would be known as "group of death". The Netherlands managed to destroy then-world champions Italy 3–0, thrashing world's runners-up France 4–1 before took revenge over Romania 2–0. The Dutch therefore marched into the quarter-finals with total three wins and perfect nine points, only conceding one goal.[7][8][9]

In such a condition, not many people believed Russia could win, even when Russia was then coached by a Dutchman, and also former boss of the Netherlands, Guus Hiddink. The manager of the Dutch at the time was Marco van Basten, the man who killed off Russia's hope in the UEFA Euro 1988 Final.


19 June – Basel
25 June – Basel
20 June – Vienna
 Croatia1 (1)
29 June – Vienna
 Turkey (p)1 (3)
21 June – Basel
26 June – Vienna
22 June – Vienna

Before the encounter, thousand of Dutch supporters made headway into Basel. Many Dutch fans were overconfident and had already expected an early Russian exit from the tournament. Many Dutch fans even gathered into partying before the match, as most of them openly underestimated Russia's determination.[10]

In term of historical encounter, this is the fourth times Russia and the Netherlands faced each other in the UEFA Euro, but this was the first time as independent Russia against the Netherlands. As the USSR, the Netherlands had faced the Soviets twice in UEFA Euro, with both shared one win and one loss, all happened in the UEFA Euro 1988; the most memorable was the UEFA Euro 1988 Final when the Netherlands beat the Soviets 2–0 to win the competition.[11] The Dutch also faced CIS before the demise of the Soviet Union in UEFA Euro 1992, which ended goalless.[12] The Netherlands, earlier, had outclassed Russia in a friendly a year before 4–1. Overall, the Netherlands held a historical edge, with four wins, two draws and only two losses.[11][12][13]

To make it difficult for Russia, the Netherlands also had full materials for the fight, with names like Dirk Kuyt, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie, Edwin van der Sar, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Nigel de Jong, both had achieved its celebrity status and having very successful careers, most notably Edwin van der Sar, who won the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League with Manchester United, shortly before the Euro, which surprisingly happened in Russia, the country he would face against; the referee of the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final was Ľuboš Micheľ, who would also officiate the match between the Netherlands and Russia.[14] In comparison, Russia did not have any significant names in the squad, and everybody had already judged that Russia could not create any shock against such a powerful and mighty Dutch side, and would have to bid goodbye after the last eight.



As the match began, it was not hard to realize the Netherlands making pressure on Russian defense. However, in 5', Yuri Zhirkov made a surprise free kick, only to be denied by Edwin van der Sar. Next two minutes saw Russia surprised the whole Dutch defense, but there was no goal for them. After early scare, the Dutch regained possession and reapplied pressure on Russia. Nigel de Jong gave a cannon fire in 25', but it missed the Russian net. Free kick specialist Rafael van der Vaart caused significant problem to Russian defenders, but his teammates could not utilize it. Andrei Arshavin had a chance to surprise in 30', but it was to no avail. A minute later, Denis Kolodin gave a shot, but van der Sar was flexible enough to deny it. Kolodin tried for the second time and also failed. Ruud van Nistelrooy almost killed the game in 37', but Igor Akinfeev proved to be a tough nut to pass. Van der Vaart once again gave a free kick passing, but de Jong missed it again in 40'. The Netherlands kept pressuring Russia but their efforts were futile as the first half ended goalless.[15]

The second half saw the Netherlands applied similar tactics like the first half. In 50', from a free kick, Andrei Arshavin almost managed to break the Dutch line, and fell into the Dutch penalty area, however there was no penalty call. As the Dutch players were struggling to find the way to Akinfeev's, Robin van Persie, who substituted Dirk Kuyt, caused an unwanted foul over Konstantin Zyryanov and allowed the Russians a free kick in 54', but nothing changed. Then, two minutes later, Arshavin saw the space down the left side. Sergei Semak found his ball and whipped it back through the middle. Roman Pavlyuchenko hammered it in to grant the Russians a shock lead. After being taken the lead, the Dutch insanely launched repeated attacks on Russian defense, but van Persie's alone could not do anything. Meanwhile, despite Dutch domination, the Russians sometimes provided scare for the Dutch, with Zyryanov almost gave Palyuchenko a chance to double the tally in 67' before being blocked by de Jong. Aleksandr Anyukov had a similar opportunity three minutes later, but was not successful. The Dutch had a chance from a deadly free kick in 71', but van Persie could not achieve anything. As the Dutch kept pressuring, the Russians kept sitting back to wait for opportunities then unleashing sudden strikes, which sometimes caused panic among Dutch supporters. Wesley Sneijder joined the attacking efforts, but nothing was done well. The Russians had a chance to finish the game in 82', but was denied by valiant Dutch defending efforts. As only five minutes before injury time, Sneijder gave a brilliant free kick where van Nistelrooy did it just a minute later with a difficult close-range header to level the tally to 1–1, sending the game to extra-times despite various attempts by both sides.[15]

The first half of extra times saw the Dutch played as usual. However, Russia, with the threat named Arshavin, destabilized the Dutch defense several times. On the other hand, Ibrahim Afellay, van Persie and Sneijder kept failing to bypass the hand of Akinfeev. Dmitri Torbinski had a chance to beat van der Sar, but his final touch was too light and easily got into hands of the Dutch legend keeper. Pavlyuchenko tested the Dutch in 100' with a free kick but it went wild. The second half saw nothing changed and the Dutch still tried to apply more pressure on Russia. Yet in 106' John Heitinga collided with Zhirkov causing the latter to fall into Dutch penalty area, but no penalty given. As the Dutch tried to attack, the looser defensive system of the Netherlands became easier for Russian players to break. In 112', following a brilliant pass by Arshavin from his weaker left foot to the back post, he provided for Torbinski to slide it in at the back past, giving the Russians a shock lead once more. As the Dutch had yet to understand how could it happen, in 116', a ball threw in by Anyukov provided Arshavin with an incredible opportunity, in which the playmaker sealed a famous win with a close-range finish through van der Sar’s legs with five minutes left as van Basten watched on from the bench, helpless to conjure up some magic like his from 20 years earlier.[15]


Netherlands 1–3 (a.e.t.) Russia
  • Van Nistelrooy Goal 86'
  • Pavlyuchenko Goal 56'
  • Torbinski Goal 112'
  • Arshavin Goal 116'
St. Jakob-Park, Basel
Attendance: 38,374[16]
Referee: Ľuboš Micheľ (Slovakia)
GK 1 Edwin van der Sar (c)
RB 21 Khalid Boulahrouz Yellow card 50' Substituted off 54'
CB 2 André Ooijer
CB 4 Joris Mathijsen
LB 5 Giovanni van Bronckhorst
CM 17 Nigel de Jong
CM 8 Orlando Engelaar Substituted off 62'
RW 18 Dirk Kuyt Substituted off 46'
AM 23 Rafael van der Vaart Yellow card 60'
LW 10 Wesley Sneijder
CF 9 Ruud van Nistelrooy
FW 7 Robin van Persie Yellow card 55' Substituted in 46'
DF 3 John Heitinga Substituted in 54'
MF 20 Ibrahim Afellay Substituted in 62'
Marco van Basten
NED-RUS 2008-06-21.svg
GK 1 Igor Akinfeev
RB 22 Aleksandr Anyukov
CB 4 Sergei Ignashevich
CB 8 Denis Kolodin Yellow card 71'
LB 18 Yuri Zhirkov Yellow card 103'
DM 11 Sergei Semak (c)
RM 17 Konstantin Zyryanov
CM 20 Igor Semshov Substituted off 69'
LM 9 Ivan Saenko Substituted off 81'
SS 10 Andrei Arshavin
CF 19 Roman Pavlyuchenko Substituted off 115'
MF 15 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov Substituted in 69'
MF 7 Dmitri Torbinski Yellow card 111' Substituted in 81'
FW 21 Dmitri Sychev Substituted in 115'
Netherlands Guus Hiddink

Man of the Match:
Andrei Arshavin (Russia)[16]

Assistant referees:
Roman Slyško (Slovakia)
Martin Balko (Slovakia)
Fourth official:
Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)


19 June – Basel
25 June – Basel
20 June – Vienna
 Croatia1 (1)
29 June – Vienna
 Turkey (p)1 (3)
21 June – Basel
26 June – Vienna
 Russia (a.e.t.)3
22 June – Vienna

The match's outcome created total disbelief from fans at the time, many had expected a Russian exit rather than a Dutch exit. Marco van Basten, who declared that he would resign after the tournament, resigned.[2] Arjen Robben, who was part of the Dutch squad but did not play in the match, admitted the defeat and had expressed his disappointment.[18] For many Dutch supporters, this shock defeat was unconvincing.[19]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia had qualified for two World Cups and two Euros, but ended up being eliminated from the group stage instead. This was the first time since 1991 that Russia could manage to reach the knockout phase, but more importantly, they reached the semi-finals, its best performance since the fall of USSR. It was considered as a peak of Russian football at the time, and was seen as a sign of hope in the future.[20] Guus Hiddink was accredited for the revolution of the Russian side.[21] In the Netherlands, Hiddink was also accredited as the biggest "traitor" the Dutch had to take the bitter, for the way the Netherlands suffered defeat to Russia.[22][19]

Russia would go on to meet Spain in the semis, where, just like in the group stage, Russia was thrashed 0–3 and won bronze medal.

After the match, it was the Dutch who slightly achieving more success in major tournaments, finishing second in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a tournament which Russia did not even qualify; in 2014 FIFA World Cup where the Netherlands took third, Russia was eliminated from the group stage. Both the Netherlands and Russia however, had equally had dubious records in the UEFA Euro since 2010s, with the Dutch even missed the UEFA Euro 2016 while Russia was eliminated from the group stage in two next editions. It took Russia over ten years to repeat the knockout stage feat, this time as host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

See also[edit]

  • UEFA Euro 2008
  • Netherlands national football team
  • Russia national football team
  • UEFA Euro 1988 Final


  1. Weixlmann, Ben. "Euro 2008: Russia Pulls Second Quarterfinal Surprise, Shocks Holland". Bleacher Report.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Van Basten to quit Dutch post after Euro 2008". www.abc.net.au. 4 December 2007.
  3. "England 2-3 Croatia". 21 November 2007 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  4. "Euro 2008: Spain thump Russia 4-1". News18.
  5. "Euro 2008 Group D: Greece 0-1 Russia". mirror. 14 June 2008.
  6. Hughes, Rob (18 June 2008). "Russia grabs last quarterfinal slot, beating Sweden, 2-0" – via NYTimes.com.
  7. "Netherlands 3-0 Italy at Euro 2008: a Sneijder-inspired masterclass downs Donadoni's men". 9 June 2020.
  8. "Netherlands 4-1 France". 13 June 2008 – via www.rte.ie.
  9. Roughley, Gregg (17 June 2008). "Football: Euro 2008 Group C: Holland v Romania - as it happened" – via www.theguardian.com.
  10. "Russia shocks Netherlands". thestar.com. 22 June 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Netherlands national football team: record v USSR". www.11v11.com.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Netherlands national football team: record v CIS". www.11v11.com.
  13. "Russia national football team: record v Netherlands". www.11v11.com.
  14. "How Edwin van der Sar knew he'd save Nicolas Anelka's penalty in 2008 UCL final". GiveMeSport. 5 October 2017.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl3Rn7V4Ozg
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Full-time report Netherlands-Russia" (PDF). Union of European Football Associations. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Team Line-ups – Quarter-finals – Netherlands-Russia" (PDF). Union of European Football Associations. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  18. "We blew it, admit dejected Dutch". Hindustan Times. 22 June 2008.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Castles, Duncan (21 June 2008). "Hiddink engineers Russian revolution" – via www.theguardian.com.
  20. "Russia 3-1 Netherlands at Euro 2008: the modern peak of Russia's national team". 20 June 2020.
  21. "Hiddink's Boys Shock Holland | Goal.com". www.goal.com.
  22. "Hiddink 'scared' of Dutch". Eurosport. 20 June 2008.

External links[edit]

Template:Russia national football team matches

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