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MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. Packing a suspended disqualification, imposed by UEFA over fans misconduct at last week’s match against England, team Russia’s misfortunes continued at the 2016 Euro Cup in France after it lost its group stage match 1-2 to Slovakia on Wednesday afternoon.
"If we knew everything in advance it would have been different," Russian forward Fedor Smolov said after the match. "We were out of luck, but I personally believe that we were able not only to pursue the draw result but to win the match as well. The only positive side in all of this is that we have one more game to play to make our fans happy."
Friendly atmosphere was observed at the stands of the 50,000-seat Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium as the match kicked off at 3:00 p.m. local time (13:00 GMT). The retractable roof of the multi-purpose stadium was closed, when the match began due to poor weather conditions in Lille. Weather forecasters predicted thunderstorms later in the day.
In their previous nine matches played against each other at various tournaments, Russia won three and Slovakia two encounters, while four matches ended with the draw. The Russian scored in total 10 goals and allowed Slovakia to score a total of seven against them.
This time Slovakia hit the pitch of the stadium in Lille with the firm intention of improving their record of mutual encounters with Russia. Dressed in white, team Slovakia dominated on the exchanges in the opening minutes of the match against the Russians, who wore their traditional red uniform.
However, led by Head Coach Leonid Slutsky, the Russian squad regained confidence by the late middle of the first half and Fedor Smolov made a dangerous shot in the 28th minute, with the ball going amiss only inches near the left bottom post of the Slovakian goal.
This attempt seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Slovakia and four minutes later Marek Hamsik hauled a long-distance assist to his teammate Vladimir Weiss, who cut inside the Russian zone and cannoned the ball into the far right corner past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev opening the score in the 32nd minute of the match.
It was not enough for Slovakia before taking the break and with less than a minute remaining of game time in the second half it was the Slovakian duo of Marek and Weiss again. But this time they changed the roles and 28-year-old midfielder Marek netted another ball on the assist from Weiss increasing their team’s dominance over Russia to 2-0.
Pressing the Slovakian team in the second half, the Russians had a better record of attempted shots on the goal, but they managed to score only in the 80th minute of the match after Denis Glushakov headed the ball into the net to put the score at 2-1.
Referees decided on the three minutes of additional time eventually, but unlike in the match against England last week, it did not help the Russian squad and the score of 1-2 remained unchanged until the final whistle.
"It is a very bitter defeat as we were able to make the final decision on our own, but it is only us to blame now for the defeat," Glushakov, who scored the only goal for Russia in the match, said after the game. "We have one more chance [in the match] against Wales. We will do everything possible to advance further."
Although Russia was a point above their rivals Slovakia following the opening games of the group stage, both teams aimed for the victory only on Wednesday to advance further at the 2016 Euro Cup.
Slovakia entered Wednesday’s match with zero points following their 1-2 defeat to Wales last week, while Russia packed one point following June 11th draw of 1-1 against England in Marseille.
Russia now remains with only one point in the group standings following today’s defeat and before the final round-robin fixture against Wales on June 20 in Toulouse. Meanwhile, Slovakia packs three points and prepares to take on England on the same day in Saint-Etienne.
Theoretically, Russia still has a slim chance of advancing to the next Round of Last 16, but the team has to do by far better playing Wales next week compared to its matches against England and Slovakia.
England and Wales will be playing their second group stage matches on Thursday, June 16, at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.
The 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France from June 10 to July 10 has matches lined up in 10 different locations, namely in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.