Euro 2016 round up: Russia 1 Slovakia 2 - and what the result means

Russia's midfielder Oleg Shatov (right) the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium on June 15, 2016.
Russia's midfielder Oleg Shatov (right) the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium on June 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

They waited more than four hours to score a goal against Russia so imagine Slovakia's delight when two arrived in the span of 13 minutes in this Group B clash.

The orchestrator of this famous victory was Slovakia's talisman Marek Hamsik, whose vision created the first for winger Vladimir Weiss against the run of play in the 32nd minute before Hamsik himself got his goal seconds before the half-time whistle.

The three points looked safe as Russia struggled to create any significant chances after the break until substitute Denis Glushakov scored in the 80th minute to hand Russia a lifeline.

That led to nervous moments for the Slovak backline which had to withstand increasing pressure but unlike their opening match against England when they rescued a point with a late goal, there was no last-minute drama for Russia.

Instead, it was Slovakia who celebrated a famous result.

Match highlights

- First chance, and a half-chance at that, takes 23 minutes to arrive. A chipped cross from the right by Russia's right-back Igor Smolnikov sees a backpedalling Artem Dzyuba hit the upright with his header. But the ball was moving so slowly that goalkeeper Matus Kozacik never looks troubled as he jogs over to collect the ball.

- Russia fashion another good chance in the 28th min but Fyodor Smolov drags a shot inches wide of the Slovakia goal.

- Slovakia snatch the lead against the run of play in the 32nd minute. Hamsik spots Weiss' run and plays a 45-yard pass to the striker, who cuts back inside from the left and curls the ball into the far corner.

- Hamsik gets his name onto the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time. He collects the ball from a short corner, beats a defender and hammers the ball into the top corner to deliver a crushing blow to Russia.

- Russia's attack continues to struggle after the break and it is Slovakia, playing with swagger, who create a chance in the 54th minute. Juraj Kucka hits a fierce shot which is palmed over by Igor Akinfeev.

- A loose ball in the box is seized upon by Smolov in the 66th min but his volley is blocked by the diving body of Jan Durica to preserve Slovakia's two-goal cushion.

 

- Russia reduce the deficit with 10 min left as Glushakov's late run into the area goes unchecked and he plants a firm header past Kozacik. A second goal and equaliser, however, proved elusive as Slovakia celebrated the win.

The talking point

This has been a Euros to forget for the Russians. Threatened with expulsion following the behaviour of their fans, they have also found little joy on the field, with one point from two games. Leonid Slutsky's side were poor in the loss to Slovakia and struggled for any attacking rhythm. Thanks to the tournament's new format, they still have a chance to qualify for the knock-out rounds if they beat Wales on Tuesday but that is a long-shot. The 2018 World Cup host have plenty to do if they want to avoid embarrassment on home soil in two years.

Man of the Match

A goal and an assist still does not capture the contribution of Hamsik. Slovakia's midfield general stamped his class all over this contest and led by example. Given a free role, the 28-year-old Napoli star impressed with his range of passing and dynamic runs into the opposing penalty area.

What the result means

Russia face a win-or-go-home tie against Wales next. Even three points may not be enough to extend their stay in France, depending on the eventual permutations of the group. While they were rocked by injuries to key players prior to the competition, an early exit would still represent a huge failure for the Eastern European giants. For Slovakia, this was their Euros debut as an independent country and two games in, they have a history victory to savour. They will approach their final game against England unburdened by any pressure.

Key statistic

Slovakia had just 35 per cent ball possession and made 292 passes, almost half less than Russia's 562 passes. But they recorded five blocks and 18 clearances, showing greater fighting spirit than their opponents.