Jubilation Greets Unexpected Victory

APA fan waving a Russian flag atop a car on Tverskaya Ulitsa on Saturday night after the national team's upset of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the Euro 2008 football championships in Basel, Switzerland.
Football fever climbed another notch Saturday night as more than 500,000 fans took to the city's streets to celebrate Russia's 3-1 upset victory for a place in the semifinals over the Netherlands in Euro 2008.

The party stretched from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad in an ocean of beer and champagne, while traffic police hugged drivers and women danced topless in the streets after knocking off a team many were picking to win the tournament.

"It was all so exciting, I was crying," said Kirill Chernyshyov, 25, a bartender at the Hard Rock Cafe.

And Chernyshyov was not the only one wearing his heart on his sleeve as Russia scored twice in extra time, to break a 1-1 tie.

"When Dimitry Torbinsky and Andrei Arshavin scored within five minutes of each other in the second half of extra time, we were all on our knees on the floor," Chernyshyov said.

He said individual patrons managed in just 10 minutes to reserve the entire bar for Thursday night's game against the winner of Sunday night's matchup between Spain and Italy.

More than 200,000 spilled out onto the streets in the city center alone, creating traffic jams everywhere that no one seemed to mind. Drivers and passengers waved Russian flags out of sunroofs and windows while pedestrians danced and sang in the middle of the streets.

Victor Biryukov, the head of the Moscow City Police, said Sunday that there had been no accidents or serious incidents and that 1,500 police officers had been on duty patrolling the streets.

The win seemed to bring everyone together on Tverskaya Ulitsa, as ethnic Tajiks paraded with Russian flags on their cheeks, young people danced to Azeri music, and Mercedes and Zhiguli drivers alike cheered along.

People were embracing everywhere, and one young woman even broke into a striptease in the middle of the street before laying down on the hood of a passing car, as other women dancing around with bottles of champagne followed suit and took off their tops.

"We don't mind," said one police officer nearby. "It was a beautiful game, so let's have some real fun."

As flares were fired off at Pushkin Square all around the poet's statue, fans milled around, some in T-shirts with portraits of Guus Hiddink -- the Dutch head coach of the Russian squad -- chanting "Russia forward" and singing "Katyusha."

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, took the opportunity for a bit of publicity, showing up on Manezh Square in a raspberry-colored jacket, singing the national anthem through a megaphone and handing out hats with his party's name to some of the thousands gathered there.

The Kremlin's web site, meanwhile, displayed a photograph of the national team on its homepage Sunday, along with congratulations from President Dmitry Medvedev on the "magnificent game, show of endurance and character, and convincing victory."

During a meeting with World War II veterans in Brest, Belarus, one of the men suggested to Medvedev that, following Russia's win over his own country, Hiddink shouldn't be allowed to return home.

"He doesn't need to," Medvedev answered, RIA-Novosti reported. "We can grant him citizenship."