Coming in off different results in their first games, Russia and Finland clashed in matchday two of Euro 2020 but the Russians managed to scrape a tough fought 1-0 win over their group rivals, setting up a tasty final day in Group B.
The Finnish employed defensive pressure high up on the pitch and it almost paid dividends immediately. An inch perfect cross from Raitala found Pohjanpalo in between 3 defenders to convert a perfect header in the 3rd minute only to be chalked off for a marginal offside found by the VAR.
Russia decimated the possession count from the outset but rarely threatened Finland's staunch defence, and while Finland found themselves on the backfoot early on they looked more likely to score on the counter attack by quick outlet passing or long balls to forwards Pohjanpalo and Premier League cult hero Teemu Pukki.
As if Russia's first half inefficiency was not enough misery, they were forced to make an early change with an injury to Mario Fernandes forcing Karavaev to make his second appearance off the bench in the first half of a game this Euro campaign.
The Russians' patience on possession finally paid off just before the half time break, the Finnish beginning to tire defensively just for a moment. The defensive lapse was long enough for Miranchuk to force his way inside the box and fire a lethal top corner effort past Finland's gloveman Hrádecky to give the Russians some reprieve in the 45th minute.
After halftime, the Finnish notably upped their offensive tempo and tried to swing back momentum in their favour as they turned up the heat on Russia's possession game.
The back-and-forth affair was exciting, and the tension was palpable as both sides racked up a total of 25 shots yet only 4 on target between them.
No shortage of scoring opportunities, but wayward striking will be to their detriment if either side are to progress into the latter stages of this tournament.
Russia will be thrilled to have won their first match and will come up against Denmark next week, while the Finnish face a star-studded Belgium next to progress to the knockout stage in their debut Euro campaign.
Finland – 0
Russia – 1 (Miranchuk 45+2')
Saint Petersburg Stadium, Moscow
Man of the Match: Aleksei Miranchuk