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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Russia burdened by history
EURO HISTORY
Andrei Kanchelskis of Russiai is chased by Italy's Paolo Maldini and Roberto di Matteo during a Euro 1996 group qualifying match
Best performance: Winners (as Soviet Union) in 1960
Recent performances:
1980 Failed to qualify
1984 Failed to qualify
1988 Runners-up (as Soviet Union) 1992 R1 (as CIS)
1996 R1 2000 Failed to qualify
Russia have failed to repeat the former Soviet Union's remarkable record in European Championship tournaments.

In 1960 the Soviet Union won the inaugural European Championship, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final.

Four years later the Soviet Union again reached the final only to lose to hosts Spain 2-1 in front of a 120,000 crowd.

The Soviet national team were also finalists in 1972 and 1988, first losing to West Germany and then Holland and Marco van Basten's wonder volley.

The break up of the Soviet Union saw Russia compete as part of the Confederation of Independent States in 1992, but thereafter they returned to international competition as Russia.

The new state qualified for Euro 1996 but endured an ignominous tournament.

Despite losing their opening two group games against Italy and Germany, Russia were still in with a chance of qualifying for the last eight.

They needed to beat the Czech Republic by two or more goals and Germany to beat Italy.

Goals from Jan Suchoparek after only six minutes and a second from Pavel Kuka had the Czechs 2-0 up at the break but Russia wiped that out within nine minutes of the re-start through substitute Alexander Mostovoi and Omar Tetradze.

Another substitute, Vladimir Beschastnykh, then put Russia ahead with an 84th-minute goal, only for Vladimir Smicer to score a last-gasp equaliser to guide the Czechs into the quarter-finals of Euro 96.

Russia failed to qualify for Euro 2000 from a group containing France, Ukraine, Andorra, Armenia and Iceland.





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