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Beaten by Youthful Russia, Tired Sweden Exits Euro 2008

Any hopes Sweden had of making it to the Euro 2008 quarter-finals were quashed Wednesday by a powerful Russian side, the 2-0 winners of the Group D game played in Innsbruck.

Swedish fans react at the end of the group D match between Russia and Sweden in Innsbruck, Austria

Swedish fans were disappointed

The Russians join group winners Spain -- who came from behind to beat the defending champions Greece 2-1 in Salzburg -- in the round of the last eight.

Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin scored the goals that put the Russians through, while Ruben de la Red and Daniel Guiza scored to give Spain a come-back victory against defending champions Greece, who had gone ahead through Angelos Charisteas.

Slick

Russia's Roman Pavlyuchenko, unseen, scores during the group D match between Russia and Sweden in Innsbruck, Austria, Wednesday, June 18, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland.

Pavlyuchenko scores

The Russian victory sets up an intriguing quarter-final for their Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who will face the Netherlands in the round of the last eight, while Spain face Italy.

The Swedes went into their match in Innsbruck needing only a draw to advance to the last eight, but they were thoroughly outplayed by a slick Russian team growing in confidence after their opening match defeat by Spain.

Pavlyuchenko finished off a superb move to put Russia ahead on 24 minutes, and Andrei Arshavin scored the second five minutes into the second half to complete victory for Guus Hiddink's side.

Oldest team

Veteran striker Henrik Larsson denied that the Swedes, the oldest team on average at the tournament, had run out of steam, but admitted they had been second best on the night.

"No, not old legs, old team, I don't know what you're talking about," he said. "I think we started very well, in the first 10 minutes, passed the ball and moved the ball well. But after that I don't know what happened, we dropped back, they got space and they got 1-0, which is always difficult to come back from. Then we were going forward and leave room at the back, which is natural."

It is the first time that Russia have reached the last eight of an international event since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Spirited

Spanish supporters wave flags

Spanish fans

In Salzburg, Spain fielded virtually a reserve side, but the players showed their spirit and quality by coming from behind to beat troubled Greece.

2004 hero Charisteas gave Greece the lead, only for de la Red and Guiza to turn the tables with second-half goals, their first for Spain.

Their third defeat means that Greece bow out as the poorest-ever defending champions in the history of the European Championship.

It was a dismal way for veteran Greek keeper Antonis Nikopolidis to finish his international career, especially because he was partly to blame for Spain's equalizer.

Spain finish top of Group D with nine points. Russia finish second with six points, Sweden third with three.

Spain manager Luis Aragones rested all of his first-teamers, with his mind on Sunday's quarter-final clash against Italy.

His best player was Xabi Alonso, who four times came close to scoring with breathtaking long drives.

"We worked hard for our win tonight," said Alonso at the end.

The Liverpool midfielder added, "Italy will be very complicated rivals, because many times they start poorly but get better as a tournament progresses."

Arrests

French fans react after the group C match between France and Italy in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 17, 2008

France was defeated on Tuesday

Earlier on Wednesday, Swiss police announced that they had arrested 12 people with stolen tickets at Tuesday's crucial Group C match between Italy and France.

It was later revealed that those arrested had not stolen the tickets themselves, but bought them on the black market. They had earlier been stolen from the Italian team hotel.

Also on Wednesday, Europe's governing body UEFA said that Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel had been suspended for two games after being sent off in his side's 3-2 victory against the Czech Republic.

He will miss his side's quarter-final clash against Croatia in Vienna on Friday and also Turkey's semi-final game if they beat the Croats.

UEFA also fined the Turkish federation 44,000 Swiss francs ($42,000) because Demirel sat on the bench after being red-carded, because they had 25 non-accredited people in the changing rooms and because Turkish fans had attempted to rush onto the field.

UEFA confirmed that the Turkish federation had appealed both against the suspension and the fine, but that a date for the appeal had not yet been finalized.

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