NEWS
Wednesday June 15 2016
Hamsik silences Russia

A Marek Hamšík masterclass saw Slovakia past Russia, though they endured a nervy finish.

The captain led by example, scoring one and setting up the other before Glushakov made the Slovaks sweat.

Torrential rain in Lille meant that the match was played with the roof of  Stade Pierre Mauroy closed to protect the pitch from the elements.

Having played a 4-2-3-1 in the first match, with Hamšík in the hole, the Slovaks switched to a 4-3-3, with the Napoli captain playing in the same deep role he occupies for the Partenopei.

Hamšík was first to try his luck, firing a left-footed effort just over Igor Akinfeev’s crossbar, before Artem Dzyuba’s weak header was easily saved by Matúš Kozáčik.

Hamšík was running the show, and it was his pass which opened up the Russian defence for the opener.

The captain picked the ball up deep and flighted a pass into Vladimír Weiss, who had got the wrong side of Igor Smolnikov.

The former Pescara man still had a lot to do, but managed to cut inside onto his right foot and place the ball into the far corner.

Slovakia doubled their lead just before half-time, and inevitably it was that man Hamšík again. Receiving a short corner on the left-wing, the midfielder breezed past his man before curling a right-footed strike off the far post and in.

So enraged was Russia Coach Leonid Slutsky by his side’s first-half display, Roman Neustädter and Aleksandr Golovin were removed at half-time, with Pavel Mamayev and Denis Glushakov replacing them.

The changes failed to alter the pattern of the play, however, as Róbert Mak stung Akinfeev’s gloves.

Gradually Russia began to assert themselves, with Jan Ďurica doing superbly to block a Fyodor Smolov effort, though Kozáčik may have had it covered.

After being comfortable for most of the match, Slovakia endured a nervy end to the game after Glushakov pulled one back with just 10 minutes to go.

Following a slick one-two on the edge of the box, Shatov cut the ball back, and the onrushing player headed into the net.

What followed was something of siege, with Slovakia desperately blocking wave after wave of Russian attacks.

Dzyuba broke into the box, but couldn’t get his shot through the massed ranks of the Slovakian defence.

Russia 1-2 Slovakia

Weiss 32 (S) Hamsik 45 (S) Glushakov 80 (R)

Russia: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Schennikov, Ignashevich, V. Berezutski; Neustädter (Glushakov, 46), Golovin (Mamaev, 46); Kokorin (Shirokov, 75), Shatov, Smolov; Dzyuba

Slovakia: Kozáčik; Pekarík, Škrtel, Ďurica, Hubočan; Pečovský, Kucka, Hamšík; Mak (Duris, 80), Duda (Nemec, 67), Weiss (Švento, 72)

Referee: Skomina [SVN]