Slovakia came into Wednesday’s second group stage match needing a victory, and Ján Kozák’s side answered the call with an emphatic result.
Group B took another twist as Slovakia picked up a 2-1 win against Russia, after captain Marek Hamsik worked a bit of magic in the first half.
The Napoli midfielder played a part in the team’s first goal, playing a long ball to Vladimir Weiss, who took advantage of the disjointed Russia backline and finished beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the 32nd minute.
Hamsik then doubled the lead for Slovakia on the stroke of halftime in spectacular fashion. The midfielder worked himself free on the left side of the Russian penalty area, before curling an effort off the far post and into the net.
While the Slovakians were forced to sit back a bit in the second half, largely due to Russia’s push for a goal, the team managed to hold on defensively despite conceding in the 80th minute.
Denis Glushakov provided Russia with a lifeline during the final 10 minutes of regulation, however, it wasn’t enough to bring the team back to salvage a tie.
Russia will need a win to close Group B play against Wales in order to have a shot at the knockout rounds, while Slovakia meets England in another critical fixture.
MAN OF THE MATCH
There was never a question that Marek Hamsik was Slovakia’s most important player, but Wednesday’s performance further proved his value to the squad.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Hamsik’s late first-half finish is among the best to date at this summer’s Euro 2016, and the timing of the goal couldn’t have been better, giving Slovakia a 2-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
MATCH TO FORGET
Despite dominating a large share of possession throughout the match, two first-half lapses defensively cost Russia in a big way. Igor Smolnikov and the defense were caught napping on both goals.