Euro 2016: Russia falls to 2-1 defeat against Slovakia
The opening stages in Lille were tightly-contested and saw few clear-cut chances, but the game sparked into life on 32 minutes when a long ball down the left released Slovakia’s Vladimir Weiss. The winger cut inside past two defenders and fired into the bottom right-hand corner of Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev’s goal.
Slovakia then doubled the lead just before half-time when midfielder Marek Hamsik scored a stunning strike.
Hamsik picked the ball up on the left-hand side of the Russian penalty box, shaping as if to cross before shifting the ball onto his right foot and firing the ball into the net off the far right-hand post.
Russian chances were few and far between in the first half, with Fedor Smolov’s 28th-minute shot the closest they came to scoring.
The second half saw Russia increasingly press forward, and the deficit was finally reduced on 80 minutes when Denis Glushakov headed in a cross from Oleg Shatov.
Russia pushed for the equalizer and saw an effort from striker Artyom Dzyuba blocked as well as a chance for Glushakov, but ultimately failed to find the goal they needed as Slovakia hung on for their first-ever European Championship win.
The result leaves Russia bottom of Group B on one point, with Slovakia moving to three points, level with Wales. The Welsh meet England tomorrow in Lens in a highly anticipated clash.
During the game in Lille, all eyes were as much on the stands as they were on the action on the pitch, with the threat of expulsion hanging over the Russian team after fans clashed with England supporters in Marseille on Saturday.
While there was no sign of violence in the 50,000-capacity Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium, Russian fans appeared to set off a flare to celebrate their team’s goal.
Пиротехника в нашем секторе. Зачем?! Условка же висит!!! pic.twitter.com/lMeSnjGXVa— Василий Конов (40+) (@VasilyKonov) 15 June 2016
UPDATE: @UEFA spokesman tells me that flare in Russian end does not count as "crowd disturbance." Russia presumably safe.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) 15 June 2016
Russia meet Wales in their last Group B game on Monday, with Leonid Slutsky’s men desperately needing a win to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.