Russia went a long way toward securing their place in the knockout rounds of EURO 2020 with a 1-0 victory over Finland in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday.
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Aleksey Miranchuk scored the game’s only goal in first-half stoppage time to give Stanislav Cherchesov’s side its first points at EURO 2020. The victory sends Russia into 2nd place in Group B, behind Belgium who are yet to play their second game (Thursday, 12 pm ET).
Two things we learned: Finland – Russia
1. Russia assert themselves as Group B’s second-best: Having been throttled by Belgium to begin their EURO 2020 quest, Russia were easily one of the more disappointing sides from the first round of group games. There were fair questions asked about their overall quality and the likelihood they could even reach the knockout rounds. Wednesday’s win over Finland will have gone some way to easing fears over the latter, but how much is the win over Finland really worth (aside from the three points)? With Denmark, Russia’s final group opponent, still likely greatly affected by the events involving Christian Eriksen, we might not see the “real” Russia until the knockout rounds.
2. Offense a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E for Finland: Through two games at EURO 2020, Finland have attempted 12 shots — including just one in their opening win over Denmark — only two of which have been on target. Fortunately for Finland, they only have world no. 1-ranked Belgium remaining in the group stage.
Man of the match: Aleksey Miranchuk – The Atalanta attacker scored the game’s only goal and led everyone in the game with three key passes. A solid rebound performance for Russia, and Miranchuk, after laying an egg in their opener.
After being badly outplayed by Belgium in their opening game, Russia responded with a hugely improved performance — and the result to match — against the Finns.
Miranchuk broke the deadlock just before halftime, and he did so with one of the more beautifully crafted goals of EURO 2020 thus far. The sequence of short passing on the edge of Finland’s penalty area didn’t exact shred the Finnish backline into little pieces, but Miranchuk operated in a tight space with four defenders surrounding him. Somehow, he got the shot away and placed it ever so perfectly.
Aleksei Miranchuk, that's some Finnish! 👏 pic.twitter.com/68KOQG03bh
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 16, 2021
Lukas Hradecky did everything he could to keep it a one-goal game as Russia pressed and probed for a second goal. With 72 minutes on the clock, he pulled off a fantastic save, diving to his left, to deny Daler Kuzyaev at full-stretch.
Up next for Russia is a clash with Denmark on Monday (3 pm ET), while Finland will face Belgium at the exact same time.