Slovakia secured their first-ever win at the European Championships as they beat Russia 2-1 in Group B play in Lille on Wednesday.
First half goals from Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamsik put Slovakia 2-0 up and they were cruising until Denis Glushakov headed home to set up a nervy finish.
Slovakia held on for the win to reignite their EURO 2016 campaign and now a win or draw against England in their final group game will see them advance to the Round of 16. Russia now has just one point from its opening two games and is up against it in their final group game against Wales.
A side note on this game: Russia is on its final warning after receiving a “suspended disqualification” after fan violence inside the stadium and after they scored a Russian supporter let off a flare inside the stadium.
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Russia looked dangerous in attack early on and Fedor Smolov dragged an effort just wide from distance as they pushed hard but looked vulnerable on the counter.
Slovakia made the most of that as Weiss gave Slovakia the lead in the 32nd minute.
A superb long ball forward from Marek Hamsik picked out Weiss on the left hand side of the box and he cut inside past two defenders and curled a lovely finish home into the far bottom corner. 1-0 to Slovakia.
Slovakia went 2-0 up just before half time as Hamsik cut inside from a short corner and curled a magnificent effort in off the far post and in from an improbable angle.
Russia tried to get back into the game in the second half but Slovakia held firm as Jan Durica blocked a goalbound shot and Russia were reduced to long-distance efforts with Pavel Mamaev lashing wide.
In the 80th minute Glushakov headed home Oleg Shatov’s cross to hand Russia a lifeline. 1-2. The Russians were buoyed by that goal and pushed forward at every opportunity in the closing stages to try and grab an equalizer.
Glushakov drilled another effort wide and Artem Dzuyba had an effort wonderfully blocked by Slovakia’s defenders as they saw out the win.