The CSKA star hit a goal in each half as Dick
Advocaat's charges ran out worthy winners in Wroclaw, inflicting a punishing
blow on their Group A rivals
By Daniel Edwards
An outstanding attacking display from Russia had as its highlight two
wonderfully-taken goals from Alan Dzagoev, as they cruised to a 4-1 win
over the Czech Republic in Group A to kick off their Euro 2012 campaign
in impressive fashion.
Dzagoev and Roman Shirokov netted before half time to put the eastern
Europeans in a commanding position, although they could have led by more
if not for wasteful finishing.
Vaclav Pilar then gave the Czechs a shout of getting something from the
game with his strike, but Russia saved the best for last as Dzagoev and
Roman Pavlyuchenko both scored in the last 15 minutes to seal an emphatic
The game started in a scrappy, hectic fashion, with both sides conceding
numerous fouls in the first 10 minutes. It was the Czechs, however, who
appeared to be in control in the first phase, controlling the ball albeit
with very little action in front of goal. Tomas Rosicky fired from long
range, but the Arsenal man put his speculative shot high and wide.
Russia were content to sit back at the beginning, but they had demonstrated
their ability in front of goal with last week's destruction of Italy.
Apparently the Czech defence had not learnt the lesson; a fluid counterattack
spearheaded by Alan Dzagoev led to Aleksandr Kerzhakov hitting the post,
but Dzagoev was on hand to fire home the rebound and give Dick Advocaat's
men the lead with just 15 minutes played.
The goal was the cue for Russia to take a stranglehold on proceedings.
Dzagoev was played in one on one with Peter Cech following a neat pass
from Kerzhakov, but the CSKA Moscow star snatched at his effort and could
only find the side-netting.
Andrei Arshavin was the inspiration for the second of the evening. The
Arsenal star split open the defence with a brilliant pass across the area,
which was met by Roman Shirokov to chip over the prostrate Cech and double
Czech Republic continued to try and build from deep with the ball at feet,
but any mistake was punished by a Russia team that attacked continually
with purpose and numbers.
Kerzhakov would have been extremely disappointed not to have registered
on the scoresheet during a one-sided first half. The Zenit man had another
golden chance to hit the net having been played in from the left-hand
side but, stretching and off balance, blazed over the bar.
The Czechs, meanwhile, barely tested Vyacheslav Malafeev at the other
end, and would have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle and go
into the dressing room just two behind.
Michal Bilek's team came out after the break looking to reduce the deficit,
but they were frustrated by a Russian outfit determined to deny their
opponents the slightest glimpse on goal.
At the other end they remained the side looking most likely to add to
the scoreline; Kerzhakov was given another chance on the right hand side,
but once again fired wide.
Seven minutes into the half, however, the Czech side finally found the
breakthrough. A wonderful pass from Jaroslav Plasil opened the Russian
defence for the first time, and Vaclav Pilar was the beneficiary as he
controlled the ball instantly, took it round Malafeev and slotted into
the empty net for a much-needed lifeline.
Wroclaw's Municipal Stadium suddenly burst into life with the strike,
as the sizeable Czech contingent in the crowd finally found something
to cheer after an opening period that had provided little and they made
On the pitch as well, the effect of Pilar's effort began to make itself
felt. The Czechs were playing with more calm and authority, while the
previously flawless passing game from Russia began to look rather more
ragged as passes were falling astray.
Advocaat's side, however, remained dangerous and should really have sewn
up the game with 20 minutes gone of the second half. Kerzhakov broke the
offside trap perfectly to go clean through, but his torrid evening in
front of goal continued as he dragged his shot well wide to blow a golden
It just was not to be the Zenit hitman's day. Another decent effort blazed
to the left of Cech's post, followed by an attempt on his weaker left
foot moments marked the sixth and seventh shots on goal of the evening
for Aleksandr, without once forcing a save from the Chelsea goalkeeper.
His profligacy meant that Russian hearts were in mouths for the last 15
minutes; a wonderfully-hit volley from Theodor Gebre Selassie from wide
on the right momentarily looked like flying in, before ultimately finishing
in the side netting.
Rosicky's vicious long-range shot also gave Malafeev trouble, but the
keeper did brilliantly to first parry before instantly recovering to smother
the loose ball. The game was wrapped up shortly after, however; more fluid
Russian passing sent Dzagoev away in the area, and the CSKA man proved
he had no problem converting as he blasted home to give Cech no chance.
And minutes after come off the bench for Kherzakov, Roman Pavlyuchenko
added a fourth with a high shot into the roof of the net, having bamboozled
an exhausted Czech backline.
The victory means Russia go straight to the top of Group A, overtaking
Greece and hosts Poland after the pair drew 1-1 in the tournament's opening
June 8, 2012
Euro 2012. Group Stage. Group A
Stadion Miejski - Wroclaw
Referee: H. Webb (England)
Russia: Vyacheslav Malafeev, Alexander Anyukov, Sergey Ignashevich, Alexey
Berezutskiy, Yuri Zhirkov, Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov,
Andrey Arshavin (c), Alan Dzagoev (Aleksandr Kokorin, 85), Aleksandr Kerzhakov
(Roman Pavlyuchenko, 73)
Coach Dick Advocaat
Czech Rep.: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Roman Hubnik, Tomas Sivok,
Michal Kadlec, Vaclav Pilar, Jaroslav Plasil, Tomas Rosicky (c), Petr
Jiracek (Milan Petrzela, 76), Jan Rezek (Tomas Hubschmann, 46), Milan
Baros (David Lafata, 85).
Coach Michal Bilek