Slovakia down Russia to take temporary lead in Group B

Vladimir Weiss (right) celebrating with Robert Mak after Slovakia scored to take the lead against Russia. His goal preceded Marek Hamsik's strike to give the Slovaks a 2-1 win and revived their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages after their openi
Vladimir Weiss (right) celebrating with Robert Mak after Slovakia scored to take the lead against Russia. His goal preceded Marek Hamsik's strike to give the Slovaks a 2-1 win and revived their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages after their opening defeat by Wales. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

GROUP B

Russia 1 Slovakia 2

LILLE • Russia threatened to grab a late draw yesterday just as they had against England.

Oleg Shatov's cross was headed home by the substitute Denis Glushakov and the sense of a repeat of Saturday was heightened by a flare going off among what appeared to be a Russian section of fans.

Leonid Slutsky's team pressed and pressed but were unable to find an equaliser and Slovakia held on to give the perfect riposte to their opening 1-2 loss to Wales.

The result raises the stakes for England as they try to beat Gareth Bale and Wales today in Lens.

Do that and England will lead the group with four points and be in command when facing Slovakia in Saint-Etienne on Monday in their final match.

Slovakia deepened Russia's woes with classy first-half goals from Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamsik in a tense 2-1 victory.

Just 24 hours after Uefa told Russia that they would be expelled from the tournament if their fans caused more crowd trouble, the Slovaks outplayed them for large parts of a match contested under a closed roof because of forecasts for heavy rain.

Slovakia took the lead in the 32nd minute when midfielder Hamsik hit a superb long ball to Weiss, who cut inside the left-hand side of the box and curled his shot inside the far post.

Just before half-time, Hamsik picked up a short corner on the left and struck his own superb curling shot across the goal and inside the right-hand post.

The Slovaks appeared to be heading towards a comfortable victory but the game changed direction dramatically in the last 10 minutes.

Substitute Glushakov threw his side a lifeline when he reduced the deficit in the 80th minute.

Suddenly Slovakia were on the back foot and the Russians looked capable of grabbing an equaliser.

Glushakov had a chance to pull his side level late on but fired just wide, and an injury-time corner for Russia was headed clear as the final whistle went. The result left Russia with just a point from the draw with England at the weekend, when their fans were involved in violent clashes with opposition supporters.

Slovakia top the group on three points ahead of Wales on goal difference.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Slovakia down Russia to take temporary lead in Group B'. Print Edition | Subscribe