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Back in business: Cherchesov hails ‘real team’ after Miranchuk’s stunning strike sees Russia past Finland for first Euro 2020 win

Back in business: Cherchesov hails ‘real team’ after Miranchuk’s stunning strike sees Russia past Finland for first Euro 2020 win
Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov said his plan had worked after his side edged past Finland in St. Petersburg in their second match of Euro 2020, seeing off their dangerous opponents with a sensational strike by Aleksei Miranchuk.

Cherchesov's men survived an early scare when Joel Pohjanpalo produced an expert close-range header to beat finals debutant Matvei Safonov – a surprise choice by the manager in goal – from a right-wing cross to score a goal that was ruled out for offside.

Relieved Russia spent much of the rest of the half dominating possession without converting their superiority into a single shot on goal.

That all changed to glorious effect when Miranchuk played a nimble-footed one-two with Artem Dzyuba inside the penalty area, then curled a beautiful finish beyond Lukas Hradecky to send most of the Gazprom Arena crowd into raptures on the stroke of half-time.

"The players were a real team today," applauded Cherchesov. "They fulfilled what they had to do and got the win.

"The formation I chose, I think, was right. To break down their defense, we needed to use the wings and we did. The plan worked."

Igor Diveev used all of his defensive nous to thwart Teemu Pukki after the interval with a perfectly-timed tackle after the striker broke free on goal.

The tournament co-hosts, though, could have gone further ahead, not least when Daler Kuzyayev collected a Dzyuba pass on the edge of the penalty area on the left and swung in a shot that seemed destined for the far corner of the net before Hradecky brilliantly intervened, springing to his left to palm the strike behind.

Despite securing their first three points, Cherchesov will be keen to address his players' evident shortcomings in front of goal. Rifat Zhemaletdinov should have scored in added time, working his way past a couple of markers inside the penalty area before blasting a shot over the crossbar.

Also on rt.com WATCH: Russian fans GATECRASH Finnish party in rowdy scenes ahead of Euro 2020 game in St. Petersburg

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