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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 30 September 2020

Russia risk disqualification as fans breach Uefa regulations again

Russian fans set off a flare inside the stadium, despite a clear warning from Uefa not to do so.

The flare is set off in the stand.
The flare is set off in the stand.
Image: Frank Augstein

MAREK HAMSIK SET up the opener and came up with a contender for goal of the tournament as Slovakia beat Russia 2-1 in Lille to claim a first European Championship finals win.

The result leaves Russia’s hopes hanging by a thread but their fate may already have been determined by more moronic behaviour by a small section of their supporters.

With Uefa making it clear that any further fan ‘disturbance’ would be punished with disqualification, one Russian fan proceeded to set off a flare in the stand after Denis Glushakov pulled a goal back for his side with 10 minutes remaining.

It remains to be seen if the organisers stick to their word and indeed kick Russia out of the tournament for breaching regulations again, although it would appear they’ll be heading home early anyway.

Hamsik starred for Slovakia as his pass released Vladimir Weiss to score in the 32nd minute at the Stade Pierre Mauroy and the Napoli star doubled the lead in style right on the stroke of half-time.

Russia pushed in the second half but were left with too much to do, even if Glushakov got one back in the 80th minute to set up a grandstand finale.

Russia v Slovakia - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group B - Pierre Mauroy Russia coach Leonid Slutski reacts to a missed chance. Source: Geert Vanden Wijngaert

The result allowed Jan Kozak’s team to bounce back from the 2-1 defeat to Wales with which they started their Euro 2016 campaign and put pressure on their Group B rivals before England take on the Welsh in Lens on Thursday.

Russia prop up the group with one point from two matches and will surely now need to beat Wales in their final group game to keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive.

After a slow start Russia grew into the game and their powerful centre-forward Artem Dzyuba, of Zenit St Petersburg, nearly caught out Slovakian ‘keeper Matus Kovacik with a header after good play down the right by Igor Smolnikov.

Dzyuba then displayed his strength to set up Fedor Smolov for a low shot that fizzed inches wide of the left post as the half-hour approached, but soon after that Slovakia were in front.

Hamsik undid the Russia defence with a superb left-foot pass in behind right-back Igor Smolnikov. Weiss still had work to do though, as he cut back onto his right foot and finished with aplomb past Igor Akinfeev into the far corner.

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Russia v Slovakia - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group B - Pierre Mauroy Hamsik was the star. Source: Frank Augstein

Leonid Slutsky’s side were stunned but there was worse to come for them, and better from Hamsik, as the interval approached.

The Russian defence was still organising itself when Weiss played a corner short to Hamsik. Oleg Shatov came across in an attempt to block Hamsik but the 28-year-old turned back onto his right foot and curled a tremendous effort in off the far post.

It was arguably the goal of Euro 2016 so far and it had the Slovakians at that end of the ground in raptures.

Slutsky changed his two central midfielders at half-time, replacing Roman Neustaedter and Aleksandr Golovin with Glushakov and Pavel Mamaev.

It was Glushakov of Spartak Moscow who reduced the arrears in the 80th minute, heading home after Shatov had played a one-two with Roman Shirokov and crossed from the left byline. But Slovakia held on.

© AFP 2016

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