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Russia eliminate champions Greece
June 15, 2008 02:23 IST
Russia scored the only goal in the 33rd minute when Greece keeper Antonis Nikopolidis ran out to try to clear the ball leaving Konstantin Zyryanov free to tap the ball into an empty net after Sergei Semak's overhead pass.
Greece, surprise winners of the European Championship in Portugal four years ago, have now lost their first two matches in the group and are eliminated before their final game.
Spain are top on six points, three ahead of Sweden and Russia who meet in their final group match on Wednesday.
The young Russian side, faster and more aggressive, never looked back after opening the scoring and attacked in waves leaving the desperate Greeks relying on crosses into the area.
The Russians carved out chance after chance and should have added several more goals in a 30-minute second-half spell that left the struggling Greece defence in tatters.
Pavlyuchenko's close range effort in the 47th was saved by Nikopolidis and the striker came close again six minutes later when he picked up a through ball from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and raced down the left only to see his low drive fly wide.
The Russian striker continued to wreak havoc in the Greece defence and tried to turn provider in the 57th with a clever backheel to Bilyaletdinov who fired wide.
The disappointing Greeks, who played with three strikers, failed to create one clear chance in the match with captain Angelos Basinas shooting over from close range in the 55th.
Even when coach Otto Rehhagel freshened up his attack with the speedy Fanis Gekas replacing the tiring Nikos Liberopoulos they could find no way of breaking down a well-drilled Russian defence as they saw their hold on the trophy slip away.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008