Euro 2020: Russia beat Finland 1-0 to keep last 16 hopes alive

Russian playmaker Aleksei Miranchuk provided the one moment of real quality to give his side a 1-0 victory over Finland. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

With a slick one-two and a beautiful curling shot, Aleksei Miranchuk finally gave Russia something to smile about at the European Championships.

The left-footed playmaker produced the one moment of class in a chaotic game Wednesday to give Russia a 1-0 win over Finland and its first points at Euro 2020.

“I have to give credit, it was beautiful finishing.” Finland coach Markku Kanerva said of the goal in first-half stoppage time.

The pessimism that followed the Russians’ 3-0 loss to Belgium in their opening Group B game was replaced by loud cheers and jubilant chants of “ROSS-I-YA” at the final whistle at Saint Petersburg Stadium.

A defeat would have left Russia with an extremely difficult task to qualify for the knockout stage, given their last match is a trip to Denmark on Monday (Tuesday NZT).

Now Russia are tied on points with the Finns, who missed a chance to reach the last 16 with a game to spare with a second straight victory in their first major tournament. Their first victory was 1-0 over Denmark in a match marked by Christian Eriksen’s collapse.

It came as no surprise that Artem Dzyuba was involved in Miranchuk’s superbly taken goal, which wasn’t in keeping with the overall standard of an often scrappy game.

The big centre forward was the focal point of all Russia’s attacks, though this one involved him using good footwork instead of his renowned aerial prowess.

Miranchuk collected the ball on the edge of the area and slipped a short ball forward to Dzyuba, who laid it off deftly back to the playmaker. Miranchuk took one touch to cut inside Finland defender Daniel O’Shaughnessy and, with barely any back-lift, floated his shot beyond goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and into the top corner.

 

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