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Russians Ecstatic At Historic European Championship Win

Hundreds of thousands of people poured out into the streets across Russia early today to a cacophony of honking and shouting following the country's unexpected Euro 2008 quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands.

The Kremlin press service said President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated the Russian team on the 3-1 extra-time win, saying that "it was a magnificent game and a magnificent victory."

Medvedev's sentiment was echoed by fans across Russia. In Moscow, local media say hundreds of thousands people ran out into the night to hug passers-by, shoot off fireworks, and honk their car horns well into the morning. Similar celebrations were reported in cities all over Russia. There were no major disturbances or serious injuries reported.

Russia took the lead in normal time when Roman Pavlyuchenko volleyed home, only for Ruud van Nistelrooy to head in an 86th-minute leveler for the Dutch. Dmitry Torbinski and Andrei Arshavin scored within five minutes of each other in the second half of extra time.

During a visit to Belarus today, President Medvedev said Russia's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink could be offered Russian citizenship. Asked whether it would be safe for Hiddink to return to his country of birth, Medvedev replied: "He doesn't need to go back, we can bestow on him Russian citizenship."

Russia opened their Euro 2008 campaign with a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Spain. But the Russian team hit back with a 1-0 win over Greece and a 2-0 win over Sweden.

Spain meet world champions Italy in the last Euro 2008 quarterfinal later today. The winners will play Russia in the second semi-final in Vienna on June 26. Germany plays Turkey in the first semi-final in Basel on June 25.

with agency reports

RFE/RL Russia Report

RFE/RL Russia Report

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