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Russian sports minister says last minutes of match against Sweden were like thumbs-down

September 05, 2015, 23:47 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, September 5. /TASS/. President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Vitaly Mutko, who is also the Sports Minister, told reporters on Saturday he felt very worried at the end of the Euro 2016 qualifier in which Russia gained the victory against Sweden at Moscow’s Otkrytie-Arena.

"It is football. These are great emotions," Mutko said. "Our players lost the initiative a bit approximately on the 70th minute. That’s psychology. During the last ten minutes, I thought thumbs were down for me."

Russia’s national football team defeated Sweden 1-0, qualifying for the Euro Cup 2016 in Group G at Moscow’s Otkrytie-Arena that gathered 40,000 spectators on Saturday. The match was the first for the new head coach, Leonid Slutsky, who replaced Italian-born Fabio Capello.

Forward Artyom Dzyuba netted the only goal on the 38th minute.

Mutko noted certain changes in the national squad after Slutsky had taken over as the head coach.

"We should pay respect to Leonid Viktorovich Slutsky," he said. "If the team was not organised before, now the organisation is on the surface. He let Alexey Berezutsky play when all understood that Sweden would attack. And of course, [goalkeeper] Akinfeyev saved us all."

"On the whole, I think that the fans were watching the football typical for us - swift and attacking," the RFU president said.

"I talked with the coaches and players before and after the match and can say that Slutsky was able to alter the mood in the team. The players were noting it. … Certainly, we must reach the Euro Cup finals with this potential," Mutko said in conclusion.

Winning a third victory in the qualifiers, Russia is ranked third in its qualifying Group G with just one point below second ranked Sweden, while the Austrian team tops the table (16 points in six matches). Sweden is second with 12 points scored in seven matches, Russia has scored eleven points in seven matches, Montenegro - five in six matches and Moldova - two points in six matches.

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