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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Russians chase past glories
Oleg Salenko's record five-goal blitz of Cameroon was a biref highlight in an otherwise disappointing campaign for Russia in 1994
High five: Salenko's goal blitz downs Cameroon in 1994
Eight years ago Oleg Salenko set a World Cup record with five goals in one game as Russia beat Cameroon 6-1 at USA 1994.

But it was a shallow and meaningless feat.

Russia failed to make it beyond the first group stage, and four years later missed out on qualification for France 1998 altogether.

Suddenly the golden era of the late 1950s and 60s seemed further away than ever before.

Between 1958 and 1970 Russia never failed to reach the last eight of the World Cup.

Russia's golden era


Melbourne 1956: Olympic gold medallists

Sweden 1958: World Cup quarter-finalists
France1960: European Champions
Chile 1962: World Cup quarter-finalists
England 1966: World Cup semi-finalists
Mexico 1970: World Cup quarter-finalists

Just before that period they also won Olympic gold in Melbourne in 1956 and they were also the first European Champions in 1960.

One man in particular is famed for his part in the Russian success story - goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

Yashin was key to both the Olympic and European Championship triumphs and played in the World Cups of 1958, 62 and 66.

He was the first keeper to win the European Footballer of the Year award in 1963 and to this day the award for the best goalkeeper of each World Cup tournament is named after him.

Russia's best chances of actually lifting the World Cup came in 1966 in England and 1970 in Mexico.

Lev Yashin was a key player in Russia's heyday
Yashin was voted Player of the Year in 1963

On both occasions their exit from the tournament was marred by misfortune and controversy.

In England they finished their semi-final with West Germany down to nine men.

Sabo had already limped off injured when Chislenko, Russia's influential winger, got himself sent off for kicking out at an opponent.

The Germans took advantage and scored twice. Russia got one back but it was not to be and Eusebio's Portugal also proved too strong in the third-place play-off.

Four years on Russia's place in the last four was denied by a highly-controversial goal against Uruguay.

The South Americans scored in the last minute of extra-time, when a cross which appeared to have been delivered from beyond the touchline, set up a goal by Esparrago which was allowed to stand.

Success since then for Russia, or as the Soviet Union in 1986 and 1990, has been far harder to come by.

Salenko's five-goal burst in 1994 came far too late and this time Russia will be seeking a success story of far greater substance.

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