MORE LIKE IT: Miranchuk goal sees Russia beat Finland
PA - Mike Egerton
Aleksei Miranchuk scored the only goal as Russia kick-started their Euro 2020 challenge in St Petersburg with a 1-0 win against Finland.
Atalanta forward Miranchuk’s decisive strike came in first-half stoppage time and victory followed Saturday’s opening 3-0 Group B defeat to Belgium.
Finland had upset Denmark 1-0 in their opening game, in a match overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s collapse, but, although they improved in the second half against Russia, they failed to seriously trouble Stanislav Cherchesov’s side.
Russia will be relieved to be up and running – they also extended their unbeaten record against the Finns to 18 matches – but they were far from convincing in a game which was low on quality.
Lack of cutting edge
The home side were given an early let-off when Joel Pohjanpalo’s flying third-minute header was ruled out for offside by a marginal VAR decision.
Russia’s first chance came in the 10th minute, but after being picked out by Miranchuk’s pass inside the area, Magomed Ozdoev blazed over from 10 yards.
The Finns’ white wall was breached by the game’s first shot on target in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half.
Miranchuk played a one-two with skipper Dzyuba just inside the box and dinked a curling left-footed finish into goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky’s top right-hand corner.
Finland lacked a cutting edge to cash in on their increased possession in the second half and Russia comfortably saw the game out.
Both sides can still progress to the round of 16. Russia will play Denmark in their final group game on Monday and Finland face Belgium.
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