Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Euro 2016: Slovakia revive qualification hopes with win over Russia

Russia 1-2 Slovakia

Published 15/06/2016

Russian fans celebrate and light a flare after Russia's Denis Glushakov scored, during the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve dAscq, near Lille, France, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Russian fans celebrate and light a flare after Russia's Denis Glushakov scored, during the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve dAscq, near Lille, France, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Russia supporters set of a red flare during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Russia and Slovakia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 15, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Slovakia's midfielder Vladimir Weiss (R) dribbles past Russia's forward Alexander Kokorin during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Marek Hamsik gestures as he celebrates his goal during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Vladimir Weiss (R) dribbles past Russia's forward Alexander Kokorin during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's forward Alexander Kokorin (L) vies with Slovakia's midfielder Viktor Pecovsky during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Joe KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's defender Martin Skrtel (L) vies with Russia's forward Fedor Smolov during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's midfielder Roman Neustaedter (L) vies with Slovakia's defender Jan Durica during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Joe KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Marek Hamsik celebrates his goal during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Vladimir Weiss celebrates a goal during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Joe KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Juraj Kucka (C) jumps for the ball with Russia's midfielder Aleksandr Golovin (R) beside Slovakia's midfielder Marek Hamsik during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's midfielder Juraj Kucka (L) vies for the header with Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba (R) during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTIFRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 15: Viktor Pecovsky of Slovakia tackles Aleksandr Kokorin of Russia during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Russia and Slovakia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 15, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Russia's midfielder Oleg Shatov (C) passes the ball under pressure from Slovakia's midfielder Marek Hamsik (L) and Slovakia's defender Tomas Hubocan during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, on June 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 15: Robert Mak of Slovakia congeratulates Marek Hamsik of Slovakia after he scores his sides second goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Russia and Slovakia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 15, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 15: Vladimir Weiss of Slovakia scores the opening goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Russia and Slovakia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 15, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Russia players pose for photos before the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve dAscq, near Lille, France, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 15: The Slovakian team lines up during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Russia and Slovakia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 15, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Slovakia claimed a 2-1 win against Russia to revive their hopes of reaching the Euro 2016 knock-out stages and leave their opponents on the brink of elimination.

First-half goals from Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamsik at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy proved enough to secure a deserved three points that moved them second in Group B - behind Wales on goal difference.

To stand any chance of progressing, Russia must beat Wales on Monday and hope other results - including between England and Wales on Thursday - work to their advantage.

More: Euro 2016: All the goals - Payet's Paris pealer, Modric magic and Iceland's stone cold Portugal stunner

Russia's lack of quality and confidence was evident for much of Tuesday's game.

They had been fortunate Vasili Beretzuski's late equalising goal gave them a 1-1 draw against England on Saturday, when their opponents had created enough chances to earn a convincing victory, and they again proved limited.

Slovakia's Weiss scored the opening goal in the 32nd minute, running onto Hamsik's impressive pass from inside his own half and controlling well inside Russia's area.

He then cut inside on his right foot to create space away from Russia's pedestrian defence, before calmly curling the ball into the bottom-right corner beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Hamsik, long recognised as Slovakia's most important player, then doubled their lead in the 45th minute with one of the finest goals of the tournament so far.

Read more: Euro 2016: Russia handed suspended disqualification and fine for crowd disorder

Collecting Weiss' short corner on the edge of the area, he masterfully curled the ball across a crowded penalty area and into the top-right corner.

Russia manager Leonid Slutsky, who impressed in leading Russia to qualification after inheriting predecessor Fabio Capello's struggling team, responded by making changes at half-time.

He introduced Denis Glushakov for Roman Neustadter and Pavel Mamaev for Aleksandr Golovin in pursuit of the goals they needed, but it was a defensive lapse that gave them hope.

Slovakia struggled to clear a loose ball and Oleg Shatov took advantage to curl a cross from the left towards Glushakov, from where he comfortably headed from the centre of the area beyond goalkeeper Matus Kozacik in the 80th minute.

A flare was then lit that appeared to be among the Russian supporters in the crowd, just a day after UEFA ruled they will be disqualified from the competition if there is a repeat of the crowd trouble seen during their fixture with England.

Russia continued to pursue a second goal but, amid growing pressure, Slovakia held out for an important win.

Press Association

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More