Russia 1-2 Slovakia: Slovakia keep their dreams of reaching the knockout rounds alive

Slovakia snatched their first European Championship victory against a poor Russia team under the closed roof of Stade Pierre-Mauroy

Russia 1-2 Slovakia: Slovakia keep their dreams of reaching the knockout rounds alive
Slovakia celebrate Weiss' opening goal. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Russia: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Berezutski, Ignashevich, Schennikov; Golovin (Mamaevat 45'mins), Neustädter (Glushakov 45'mins), Kokorin (Shirokov 76'mins), Shatov, Smolov; Dzyuba
Slovakia: Kozácik; Pekarík, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan; Kucka, Pecovsky, Mak (Duris 80'mins), Hamsik, Weiss (Svento 72'mins); Duda (Nemec 67'mins)
SCORE: 0-1 Weiss 32, 0-2 Hamsik 45, 1-2 Glushakov 81.
REFEREE: Cautioned: Durica 46

The build up to Russia against Slovakia had been overshadowed by UEFA's suspended ban of Russia from the tournament, yet the match itself did not disappoint as Slovakia blew Group B wide open with victory.

Slovakia stun Russia with two moments of class

After defeat against Wales and a difficult final game to come against England, Slovakia knew they had to beat Russia to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.

They began the game in cautious mode, allowing Russia plenty of possession, before two moments of genius gave them the foundations they needed for a maiden European Championship victory.

Whilst Russia were struggling to find a way past Slovakia's defensive line, Slovakia were finding their favoured routes down the wing often blocked by a stubborn and experienced Russian defence.

Neither side tested the opposition goalkeeper in the opening half hour, though Russia's Fedor Smolov drove a shot just wide from outside the box.

It was to be Slovakia's star man, Marek Hamsik, who had endured a quiet start to the tournament in the previous two hours of football he had played, who eventually found the quality to unlock an organised Russian defence.

After cool defending from captain Martin Skrtel, Hamsik picked out Vladimir Weiss with a glorious diagonal ball that cut open the Russia defence. Weiss cut inside and was able to lash Slovakia into the lead.

Russia had no response and the situation got even worse just moments before half-time. They switched off at a Weiss corner, who picked out Hamsik in return for the opening goal.

Hamsik then feigned one way before pulling the ball back onto his right foot and crashing a wonderful effort off the inside of the post to double Slovakia's lead at the break. 

Hamsik celebrates his stunning strike to make it 2-0. (Photo: Getty Images)
Hamsik celebrates his stunning strike to make it 2-0. (Photo: Getty Images)

A lack of fight costs Russia

Unsurprisingly Slovakia came out in the second half with all their players happy to sit deep behind the ball.

Yet Russia were unable to show any fight and continuous sideways passing alongside a handful of ambitious long range efforts were just what Jan Kozak and Slovakia would have been happy with.

With ten minutes remaining, Russia knew their hopes of at least gaining a point were disintegrating and eventually began to pile players forward.

A lapse of concentration allowed Denis Glushakov to glide in between the Slovakia midfield and defence and glance Oleg Shatov's cross into the back of the net.

That goal gave Russia hope and the first increase in tempo they had provided all game. As a flare was let off in the Russia end, Glushakov almost provided another spark against a now nervous Slovakia defence, firing just wide of Matus Kozacik's goal.

Slovakia managed to hold on and were able to celebrate a first European Championship victory and gave themselves hope of qualifying for the knockout stages. Russia are still not out of the completion but need to clean up their act on the field as well as off it.