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Monday, June 23, 2008

A dumbfounded Dutch fan sits in the empty stands after the Netherlands exited from the Euro 2008 in Basel on Saturday.Photo: AFP
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Disappointed Dutchman Arjen Robben admits the Holland team are hurting from their shock 3-1 defeat by Russia in Saturday's Euro 2008 quarterfinal and says it will take time to get over it.

Real Madrid winger Robben sat out the game in Basel with a groin strain and could only watch in disbelief as the Russians scored two goals deep into extra-time to send Holland home.

In the build-up to the last eight clash, Marco van Basten's Dutch team had put both 2006 World Cup finalists France and Italy to the sword in their Group C campaign and had widely been regarded as the form side of the tournament.

But they came unstuck against the hard-working Russians' with man-of-the-match midfielder Andrei Arshavin outstanding.

A second-half goal by forward Roman Pavlyuchenko gave the Russians the advantage, but Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy headed home with four minutes left to take the match into extra-time.

Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Arshavin then floated in a pin-point accurate cross for substitute Dmitri Torbinski to stab home in the second period of injury time before the 27-year-old scored himself to kill off the Dutch.

But for Robben it was hard to admit his Dutch side had been soundly defeated.

"Russia were the justified winners," he said.

"It's amazing that a Dutch team with so much quality can get beaten. It's a difficult night for us. It's a sad story."

And burly midfielder Orlando Engelaar was equally dejected.

"We blew the European Championships. It's going to take a while for this to settle in."

Veteran Giovanni van Bronckhorst said the Dutch simply did not have the power to see off the Russians as Holland's Euro 2008 title aspirations lay in tatters.

"They played really well and we didn't have the best of games," said the 33-year-old former Rangers and Arsenal star.

"On the night Russia deserved to go through.

"I can't explain it. It's very hard.

"We had the feeling in this tournament that things were going well but in football you never know.

"You can play well against Italy or France and then go out against Russia.

"We couldn't play the way we normally do.

"We didn't have the power to overcome them.

"I think Russia did very well."

For Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who was playing his last game of a European Championships, the Dutch could simply not match the levels they had shown in their impressive wins over France and Italy.

"I think we had a great tournament and unfortunately we couldn't get the level of play that we did in the first two games," said the shot-stopper.

"You have one bad game in the knockout stages and you are out.

"That's the way it is.

"Russia did very well against us.

"They are a very good side and they have a great chance now.

"They are in the semifinals - they one of four potential champions so they have a great chance."

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