Vast numbers of ecstatic Russians celebrated well into the night after the national team reached the Euro 2008 semifinals on Saturday with a thoroughly deserved 3-1 extra-time win over Netherlands.
Hundreds of thousands of Muscovites poured on to the streets within minutes of the final whistle in Basel.
The area around the Kremlin in Moscow’s centre was jammed as people of all ages cheered euphorically at the unexpected result. Fans danced on phone booths and climbed on car roofs as the normally stern police kept a distance.
“We finally did it. Congratulations to everyone,” yelled a young fan, wrapped in the Russian flag as he walked along the Manezh Square, metres away from the red-brick Kremlin walls.
Others praised Dutch-born coach Hiddink. “Guus, Guus, Guus”, the fans shouted into the warm night air. According to Moscow police, nearly 500,000 fans joined the party across the city of over 12 million.
Russian television stations on Sunday also showed fans partying in the streets and in bars across Russia, from Siberia in the far east to Sochi on the Black Sea to the south.
Broadcasters showed similar celebrations in former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan and Georgia, both independent countries now.
In Moscow, the post-midnight celebrations packed the streets with thousands of jubilant fans, waving national flags, yelling “Rossiya, Rossiya” and blocking traffic along the main roads.
Motorists honked their horns as passengers hung precariously from windows and others set off fireworks.