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ROMAN PAVLYUCHENKO PROVES HIS WORTH

By Mal Content

Reported Celtic target Roman Pavlyuchenko proved his worth last night as the 26-year old Spartak Moscow striker and his strike partner Andrei Arshavin, of Huns-skelpers Zenit St Petersburg, scored the goals that meant Russian progression to the Euro 2008 quarter-finals at the expense of Sweden.

In Group D's final matches, Sweden needed only a draw to progress but Russia's movement, pace and passing were far, far too much for a weary-looking and predictable Sweden, who resorted to the long-ball game but lost 2-0 to Russia, who were richly deserving of their victory and could have and probably should have won by more goals.

A sweeping move down Russia's right flank in the 24th minute resulted in Aleksandr Anyukov's pass to Roman Pavlyuchenko, who swept his strike low and hard into the far corner of the net and beyond the despairing dive of Sweden keeper Andreas Isaksson.

Andrei Arshavin, playing his first game of the tournament after suspension, started and finished the Russian counterattack in the 50th minute for Guus Hiddink's side's second goal after a long ball out of the Swedish defence had been intercepted. Arshavin's clinical finish from Yuri Zhirkov's pass was superb.

Sweden huffed and puffed, peppering the Russian defence with long balls forward, but with Sweden's strike force of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson subdued, Lars Lagerback's team never really looked like clawing their way back into the match from which they needed a draw to progress to the quarter-finals.

Indeed, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin should have added to the Russian tally via numerous counterattacks, with the Russians also twice hitting the frame of the goal.

Russia's richly deserved 2-0 victory means Guus Hiddink's team will play the coach's native country Holland in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.

For Sweden, it's a Euro 2008 exit, and probably the end of international careers for several of their veterans, though post-match Henrik Larsson angrily denied that he would quit, despite being close to 37-years of age.

In the other Group D match last night, Group winners Spain were able to recover from a one-goal deficit to Greece to win 2-1, despite Luis Aragones making ten changes to the Spanish team that started the 2-1 win over Sweden.

Defending Euro Champions Greece, who had already been knocked out of the tournament, restored some pride by scoring their first goal of Euro 2008 when Angelos Charisteas powerfully headed home a Giorgios Karagounis free-kick in the 42nd minute.

However, Spain were dominant and deservedly equalised in the 61st minute when Ruben De la Red thundered a shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

In the 88th minute, Daniel Guiza headed in a late winner from a Sergio Garcia cross, Spain's win meaning that they, Croatia and Holland have emerged from the Group stages with 100% records.

The Euro 2008 quarter-finals are as follows:

Thursday - Germany v Portugal

Friday - Croatia v Turkey

Saturday - Netherlands v Russia

Sunday - Spain v Italy

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