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Slovakia crushes Russia to secure first win in Euro Cup

Slovakia crushes Russia to secure first win in Euro Cup

Agencies 

Marek Hamsik scored a stunning goal as Slovakia beat Russia to secure a first win at a European Championship. 

The Napoli midfielder's measured pass set up Vladimir Weiss, who cut inside and side-footed Slovakia ahead. Hamsik then spectacularly doubled the lead, receiving a short corner out wide before firing a shot in off the post.

Russia face disqualification if their fans misbehave inside stadiums and a flare was seen among their supporters when Denis Glushakov headed in late on. That appeared to be the only issue for authorities inside Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy, in contrast to last week's scenes in Marseille's Stade Velodrome, where Russian fans charged into a section for England supporters after the final whistle in the draw between the two countries. 

Russia will now almost certainly need to beat Wales on Monday if they are to stand any chance of progress, while Slovakia know victory over England will see them through.

Much owed to Hamsik

Slovakia's defensive effort as Russia applied pressure late on was admirable, but without Hamsik it is hard to see Jan Kozak's side creating opportunities. 

He is one of only two players in the Slovakia squad with more than 10 international goals - and just as in their opening defeat by Wales, he had more touches than any of his team-mates.

This time his touches were more telling as he found positions to have five shots, contributed more passes than any Slovakia player and won possession 12 times - a game high. 

The ball to free Weiss took advantage of Russia's early positivity. Right-back Igor Smolnikov had continuously joined attacks and his poor positioning saw Hamsik curl a pass into space from deep. 

Weiss, who plays for Qatari club Al-Gharafa, easily evaded two challenges before becoming the first player from a non-European club to score at a European Championship. If his finish was composed, Hamsik's was an exhibition of power as his effort flew across goal to cannon off the upright and back across the goal line into the bottom corner.

 

 

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