Major shock for Hiddink
Slovenia's Zlatko Dedic scores against Russia.
Slovenia reached the 2010 World Cup finals at the expense
of nine-man Russia thanks to Zlatko Dedic's 44th-minute goal on a dramatic
night in Maribor.
The Bochum striker toe-ended in Valter Birsa's cross a minute before half-time
in what proved to be the game's only goal to spark jubilant scenes at
the Gradski Vrt stadium.
Russia, who had Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Yuri Zhirkov sent off in the second
half, were left to rue some poor defending and an overall disjointed performance.
Matjaz Kek kept the same eleven that started the match in Moscow, whilst
Guus Hiddink brought in Lokomotiv Moscow's Renat Yanbaev at left back
and moved Yuri Zhirkov further forward to the left side of midfield.
The late goal in Moscow had handed Slovenia a lifeline and they began
the game with real purpose, whilst the Russians, having let a commanding
two-goal cushion slip, looked nervy and disjointed, particularly in defence.
The warning signs were there for Hiddink as early as the fourth minute,
when a simple through-ball from Birsa inexplicably cut open the Russian
defence and allowed Milivoje Novakovic a clear sight of goal, but his
finish lacked confidence and was straight at keeper Igor Akinfeev.
Six minutes later there was a huge let-off for Russia when Andraz Kirm's
cross from the left struck the leg of the hapless Sergei Ignashevich,
who saw the ball rebound off the post with Akinfeev motionless.
Dedic then beat Yanbaev to a deep cross from Novakovic, but his header
lacked power and Akinfeev gathered comfortably.
As the clock ticked towards half-time, the home support erupted as Dedic
got behind two Russian markers to turn in Birsa's cross and give Slovenia
the lead at the break.
Hiddink made two changes at half-time, bringing on Sergei Semak and Aleksandr
Kerzhakov for Pavlyuchenko and Yanbaev.
But Russia's night went from bad to worse when the Dinamo Moscow striker
was shown a contentious red card by Norwegian referee Terje Hauge on 66
Zhirkov's cross from the left was whipped in dangerously towards Kerzhakov,
who got the better of his marker and slid in on goalkeeper Samir Handanovic,
appearing to make a legitimate stab at the loose ball.
The challenge was interpreted as dangerous play by the referee, and closer
inspection of the incident also appears to show Slovenia defender Bostjan
Cesar strike Kerzhakov in the face, while goalkeeper Handanovic chipped
in with a retaliatory hand aimed at the striker.
Hiddink reacted by throwing on another striker, Pavel Pogrebniak, in place
of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and the Stuttgart man almost made an immediate
impact with a 12-yard header from Arshavin's cross that was held by Handanovic.
As the game neared its dramatic climax, Zhirkov soared into the penalty
box and hit a volley that was beaten out by Handanovic.
The ball was immediately cleared downfield to Dedic, who drilled a glorious
opportunity wide, whilst at the other end Vasili Berezutsky came closest
to finding an equaliser for Russia, volleying over from close range following
There were more ugly scenes in stoppage time as Zhirkov was shown a second
yellow card following an altercation with a Slovenia substitute on the
Seconds from the end Novakovic had a further glorious chance to put the
icing on the cake, and the final whistle brought scenes of jubilation,
with Russia ultimately left to pay the heaviest of prices for not finishing
the match off on Saturday.
Slovenia rejoiced after beating Russia in their World Cup play-off to
clinch a spot in the finals for the second time.
"Our wish, our goals, our dreams came true. I congratulate, (and)
bow to our boys," an overwhelmed Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek said at
a news conference. "This is a happy end in line with Hollywood scenarios.
We deserved to win. The boys deserve respect, they left their heart out
"My philosophy, which was accepted by players, is that I am not interested
in individuals in my team and even less in the individuals of the opposite
team. We showed that we can beat the best players in the world by an organised
defence. For us the only important thing was a team and how we will win
Kek also accused his Russian counterpart Guus Hiddink of not shaking his
hand after the match. "Mr Hiddink is one of the best coaches, a big
gentleman and I believe that today is not easy for him but I also deserve
a handshake," he told reporters, adding that he had not spoken with
the Dutchman since the match ended.
Former Slovenia striker Zlatko Zahovic also praised the team's collective
spirit. "This time Slovenia totally outplayed Russia," Zahovic
told local television. "Russians are excellent individualists but
collective spirit prevailed."
November 18, 2009
Slovenia 1 - 0 Russia
Zlatko Dedic (44)
Stadium: Petrol Arena, Maribor
Match Time: November 18, 2009, 19:45 UK
Official(s): T. Hauge (Referee)
|1 Samir Handanovic
||1 Igor Akinfeev
|5 Bostjan Cesar
||4 Sergei Ignashevich
|2 Miso Brecko
||5 Vasili Berezutsky
|4 Marko Suler
||2 Aleksandr Aniukov
|13 Bojan Jokic
||18 Yuri Zhirkov
|18 Aleksandar Radosavljevic
||13 Renat Yanbaev
|8 Robert Koren
||17 Konstatin Zurianov
|17 Andraz Kirm
||6 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
|9 Zlatko Dedic
||7 Igor Denisov
|10 Valter Birsa
||10 Andrei Arshavin
|11 Milivoje Novakovic
||9 Roman Pavlyuchenko
|12 Jasmin Handanovic
||Vladimir Gabulov 12
|3 Matej Mavric
||Denis Kolodin 3
|6 Branko Ilic
||Igor Semshov 8
|16 Dalibor Stevanovic
||Sergei Semak 11
|7 Nejc Pecnik
||Alan Dzagoev 15
|15 Rene Krhin
||Alexander Kerzhakov 16
|9 Zlatan Ljubijankic
||Pavel Pogrebniak 14
|Nejc Pecnik for Valter Birsa (78)
|Alexander Kerzhakov for Roman Pavlyuchenko (45)
|Dalibor Stevanovic for Zlatko Dedic (90)
|Sergei Semak for Renat Yanbaev (45)
||Pavel Pogrebniak for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (77)
|Valter Birsa (55)
|Yuri Zhirkov (8)
|Samir Handanovic (67)
|Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (22)
|Robert Koren (76)
|Igor Denisov (72)
||Alexander Kerzhakov (66)
||Yuri Zhirkov (90)