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    Russian team gets warm welcome on returns from Euro 2008

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    The Russian national soccer team returned Friday to Moscow from Austria after finishing third at Euro 2008.

    MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian national soccer team returned Friday to Moscow from Austria after finishing third at Euro 2008.

    Led by Dutch trainer Guus Hiddink, the young Russia squad surprised many soccer lovers by reaching the semifinals, where it lost to an experienced Spanish side 3-0.

    The team were greeted as heroes at Moscow's Domodedovo airport by dozens of fans waving flags and playing music. The team then moved on to the Luzhniki stadium to take part in a muted celebration.

    Speaking at the airport, Hiddink said Russia should be proud of its players, because he had set them the task of qualifying from the group stage and they had gone one better by reaching the semifinals.

    Russia were outclassed by Spain in their opening game at the tournament on June 12, losing 4-1, but won their next three matches to reach the last four. Those victories, against Greece, Sweden and, most notably, the Netherlands, had the soccer world hailing such previously "unknown" names as Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhirkov and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

    The semifinal defeat was Hiddink's third at a major tournament, his Dutch team losing to Brazil on penalties in 1998, and his South Korea side going out to Germany in 2002.

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