Slovakia beat Russia 2-1 as Marek Hamsik lights up Lille
Marek Hamsik was the star of the show as Slovakia beat Russia 2-1 in Lille
to leapfrog England in Group B.
A raking cross-field pass from Hamsik picked out Vladimir Weiss after
32 minutes, who cut inside before picking out the far corner to open the
And it was Hamsik who repeated the trick shortly before half-time, cutting
back on to his right foot and bending a beautiful shot in off the far
A header from substitute Denis Glushakov pulled one back for Russia with
10 minutes remaining, but it was too little too late from Leonid Slutsky's
A weather forecast predicting heavy rain meant that the roof over the
Stade Piere Mauroy was closed a couple of hours before kick-off in Lille,
which enhanced an already lively atmosphere.
But neither set of supporters had much to cheer in an evenly balanced
but uneventful opening half an hour that saw Slovakia start the brighter
but Russia go the closest with a Fedor Smolov shot that brushed the outside
of the post on its way wide.
However, the game turned on its head when Hamsik -- picking up the ball
in the right-back position -- spotted Weiss making a run off his left
flank and swept a pass over the top to send the pacey wide man clear.
Weiss -- showing impressive composure to resist a shot with his left foot
from a difficult angle -- cut back on to his right to wrong-foot the two
covering defenders and angled his shot around Igor Akinfeev into the far
It was a wonderful team goal, beautifully created and expertly finished,
but Hamsik had something even more special up his sleeve before the break.
Taking advantage of some slack Russian defending, the Napoli midfielder
latched on to a short corner on the edge of the area before again wrong-footing
the covering defenders with a sudden change of direction and unleashing
a powerful curling strike that went in off the inside of the far post
to make it 2-0.
Russia manager Slutsky had named an unchanged starting XI from the team
who snatched a 1-1 draw against England on Saturday.
But the shock of the first-half forced Slutsky into making two changes
at the break, replacing Roman Neustadter and Aleksandr Golovin with Pavel
Mamaev and Denis Glushakov as he sought to try and offer lone bright spark
Artem Dzyuba some assistance.
Russia were improved after the interval, but continued to struggle to
support their impressive front man. A blocked effort by Smolov was the
best that the hosts of the next World Cup could muster until the 80th
minute when Oleg Shatov's clipped cross was dispatched by substitute Glushakov
to set up a grandstand final 10 minutes.
The result leaves Russia likely to need a win from their final group game
against Wales to avoid elimination, while Slovakia have a good chance
of progressing and could effectively ensure their passage to the knockout
stages with a positive result against England in their third game of the
espnfc.com, 15 June