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EURO2016: Slovakia prove too slick for Russia

Group B's Russia and Slovakia put on an entertaining contest in Lille with Slovakia surviving a late scare to claim a 2-1 victory.

It was a game neither side could afford to lose after winless opening fixtures and as such, the opening minutes were fairly tentative as both sides probed forward with no real effect.

Marek Hamsik fired a shot just over the crossbar from a tight angle on ten minutes to mark the first real effort at goal from either sides.

Russia would issue their reply on 23 minutes when Artem Dzyuba nodded the ball towards the near post but without enough power to trouble Slovakian keeper Matus Kozacik.

In attack, Slovakia were twice undone by the offside flag while Russia struggled to create any meaningful chances despite routinely carving up the Slovakian defense.

On 32 minutes, it was Slovakia who did the carving however as Vladimir Weiss was found with an incisive lobbed ball into the box from Hamsik. The number seven cutting back in past two over-committed defenders and drilling a shot to the bottom right of goal to open the scoring.

With half-time approaching and a spring in their step, Hamsik doubled Slovakia's advantage in added time. The midfielder cut past one defender just inside the left of the Russian box and fired a stunning shot into the top right of goal from a ridiculous angle.

Slovakia the sharper side in attack after 45 minutes and went into the break deservedly leading by two goals.

Russia ushered in the changes at half-time with Denis Glushakov and Pavel Mamaev both introduced when play resumed.

Not long after the second-half began, the game's first and only yellow card was shown with Slovakia's Jan Durica the recipient.

While Russia dominated possession, it remained Slovakia the slicker of the two in attack. A counter-attack on 54 minutes forcing Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev into a save.

As Russia continued to marshal forward without success, Oleg Shatov compounded their frustrations on 56 minutes as he shot high and wide from range when he had teammates either side.

Slovakia were doing just enough at the back to keep Russia at bay with successive Russian shots on goal either side of 65 minutes blocked by Slovakia defenders.

In what was becoming a half of few chances for Russia, they would ruthlessly seize upon one to grab a crucial goal on 80 minutes. Denis Glushakov heading home to reignite the contest with Slovakia's lead cut to just one goal.

A Slovakian side that had stayed calm and collected for 80 minutes were now showing signs of frailty as Russia desperately ventured forward.

In the 89th minute Dzyuba had time aplenty in the Slovakia box but waited too long to pull the trigger as Slovakian defenders were able to block his eventual shot.

Slovakia surviving a nervous final few minutes to secure an all important victory that blows Group B wide open.

EURO2016 - Group B

Russia: 1 (Denis Glushakov 80')
Slovakia: 2 (Vladimir Weiss 32', Marek Hamsik 45')
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille (49,000)

Joshua Thomas
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Joshua Thomas

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