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.
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.
No sweet swansong for van der Sar
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.
Just as the Dutch struggled for words to describe the disappointment, so their victorious Russian counter-parts found it hard to sum up their emotions after downing high-fliers Holland. “We did a great job, it was incredible,” said Pavlyuchenko. “It’s very difficult to find any words to describe my feelings.
Cruyff proud of Dutch campaign
Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff expressed his pride in how Holland had performed at Euro 2008 despite their being knocked out by Russia in Saturday's quarterfinal. The 61-year-old former Barcelona coach is notoriously hard to please but the Euro 2008 side met with his 100percent stamp of approval, even if he didn't mention their coach Marco van Basten once in his interview with Dutch TV station NOS.
“They were two fantastic weeks,” admitted Cruyff, referring to the gorup stage where the Dutch trounced both world champions Italy and 2006 World Cup finalists France before their second choice side rounded off the first round with a 2-0 defeat of Romania.“Everyone appreciated the 'Oranje' style of play.