Netherlands vs. Russia: First HalfS


We're already half way through the first knockout stage of Euro 2008, and we'll be treated to another fantastic match. The Dutch side enters looking all but invincible after some explosive play in the group stage, but the Russians surely won't be rolling over. Well they might, but then Putin would would have them "dealt" with, while Roman Abramovich buys up everybody with a "Van" in their name. But I digress. Continue after the jump for running commentary once things get started.

We're live on ABC's glorious HD, and the Dutch are looking spry in their orange shorts. Guus has his Russian squad peaking at the right time to challenge his home nation, but few believe that the Ruskies can keep pace with the Dutch. The game should be getting underway in a few minutes, so if you'll excuse me I'm going to finish my Indian carryout and help myself to the first beer of the day.

• Van Persie and Robben start out on the bench, but they should see the field before this one is over.

• I understand that it's relevant and all, but I really wish they'd stop talking about dead babies, it's bringing everybody down.

• Yuri Zhirkov just had the first good chance of the match off of a free kick, but van der Sar came up big in net once again. The subsequent corner is dealt with and the Dutch take the ball back.

• The Russians storm right back down and get a clean header off of a cross that goes over the bar. Eight minutes in and the Russians look feisty.

• Another free kick for the Russians, but it had a trajectory similar to that of the Mir.

• The first stoppage of the game comes on an injury to Boulahrouz, he's off for now, but he should return shortly.

• In case anyone was wondering, I hate Dirk Kuyt. Just thought I'd clear that up.

• The match has been fairly free-flowing, but quality opportunities have been hard to come by in the first 20 minutes. I get the feeling that this will open up with time like a nice Barolo.

• Boulahrouz is back and now he's doing the fouling. Zyryanov has a free kick in a promising area, but he's unable to challenge the Manchester goalie.

• The Dutch have had plenty of success linking up on long balls, but they haven't done much with them. Engelaar couldn't keep his attempt on target following a corner.

• Van Der Vaart just deposited a set piece in front of the far post, but Ruud was a half-step shy of converting an easy one. The Dutch have maintained possession and they're finally starting to apply the pressure.

• And just like that the Ruskies are flying down on the counter attack. Arshavin put a beautiful move on the ball and van der Sar was fortunate to get a finger tip on the ball.

• And now the Kolodin is firing on goal at will, one shot forced the van der Sar to make another spectacular save. Not much play going on in the midfield right now.

• It's become impossible to keep up on all the action right now, the attacks are coming that frequently. Ruud put a shot on target from close range, but he was unable to avoid the keeper.

• Sneijder's free kick from the center of the pitch was deflected harmlessly for a free kick. Everything Sneijder touches today has suffered from a similar fate.

• De Jong with a great opportunity, but the header was wide of target.

• There are just a few minutes remaining in the half, and despite plenty of chances things remain scoreless.

• van der Vaart received a pass in the center of the area and he fired the shot directly at Akinfeev in net. That's a ball you have to put in the corner of the net. Injury time approaches.

• That's the half, I'll be back shortly with a fresh post up top.