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MOSCOW - The Russian press expressed bitter disappointment yesterday, the day after the national side suffered a 4-1 thrashing by Spain in their European championship Group D opening match.
"Defenceless!" the front page headline of the Trud daily newspaper, blaming amateur defending for their heavy defeat in Innsbruck, Austria.
"A lot of power with a lack of intellect!" screamed the front page of the daily Sport Express.
"Sometimes there was a complete emptiness in front of me," the newspaper quoted goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev as saying about his teammates in defence.
All newspapers were united in calling on Russian football lovers to continue to support the national team, stressing that the squad could still progress.
"We still have two attempts in hand," insisted the country's oldest sports daily, Soviet Sport.
In general the Russian press estimated that the team's playing in midfield and attack was not bad at all - they had a lot of the ball and created chances - but Spain were ruthless, converting numerous errors in defence into goals.
The papers quoted team manager Guus Hiddink, who slammed his team as naive.
"The lesson is that we are playing well and created some chances but we were caught out for too much naivity and then got punished," he said.
"We had a lesson in punishment on the counterattack caused by ourselves."
The press called on the team to learn quickly from their mistakes.
"The defeat was cruel but it left us hope as the team's performance made us believe that they are capable of beating their other group opponents," Soviet Sport added. - Sapa-AFP