Group A: Russia 4 - 1 Czech RepublicSat, Jun 09 2012
Russia cruised to a 4-1 win in their opening Euro 2012 game against the Czech Republic to take a grip of Group A and send out a warning to the rest of the competing nations in Poland and the Ukraine.
With the Championship’s opening game having ended in a 1-1 draw in Warsaw, both Russia and the Czech’s had the opportunity to seize the initiative, and it was Dick Advocat’s side who took full advantage of the situation thanks to goals from Alan Dzagoev (2), Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavlyuchenko.
As the first half progressed, Russia started to enjoy the greater possession and create more danger in front of goal, with the forward line of skipper Andrey Arshavin, Aleksandr Kerhakov and Dzagoev all showing their attacking ability.
On 15 minutes, the Russian’s split the Czech defence open. Konstantin Zyryanov found space on the left, and his cross found the head of Kerzhakov at the back post. The forward's header evaded Chelsea keeper Petr ?ech, but Dzagoev was the quickest to react to the rebound and the CSKA Moscow forward drilled the ball into the net from 10 yards out.
Dzagoev should have added to his tally just minutes later, but after being released through on goal by the impressive Arshavin, the forward sliced his shot wide.
The Czech’s slowly got into their rhythm and created their first chance of the game. A Vaclav Pilar cross found Jan Rezek lurking at the far post, but former Chelsea defender Yuri Zhirkov just got back to prevent the midfielder getting an effort on goal and clear the ball for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Rezek’s glancing header found the target, but went straight into Vyacheslav Malafeev’s arms.
Arsenal man Arshavin soon created another piece of magic to extend the Russian’s lead just moments later. The midfielder picked up the ball and slid a delightful ball through the Czech defence for Roman Shirokov who poked the ball past the Petr Cech to give the Russian's a 2-0 goal lead.
It could very nearly have been 3-0 just seven minutes later when Konstantin Zyraynov set up Aleksandr Kerzhakov, but the striker blazed his effort over the bar.
The Czech's found themselves right back in the game early in the second half when Tomas Rosicky's matched the sublime pass of his Arsenal teammate Arshavin by splitting open to Russian defence and sending Vaclav Pilar through who rounded Malafeev and tucked the ball in the bottom corner.
After this goal, the game went through a quiet period with no goalmouth action of note, but Arshavin was still catching everyone's eye during this time with his outstanding performance. He was looking like the much sought after Arshavin from Euro 2008 again.
Russia were still looking the more likely team to add to the scoring on the night, and sure enough they did when Alan Dzagoev grabbed his second of the night in the 78th minute. Roman Pavlyuchenko then sealed the three points for Russia and really ruled out any late, great comeback from the Czech's with his own effort to make it 4-1 with eight minutes to go.
Russia: Vyacheslav Malafeev; Aleksandr Anyukov, Aleksei Berezutski, Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Igor Denisov, Roman Shirokov, Konstantin Zyryanov; Andrey Arshavin, Alan Dzagoev (Aleksandr Kokorin 84'), Aleksandr Kerzhakov (Roman Pavlyuchenko 73')
Subs not used: Igor Akinfeev, Denis Glushakov, Vladimir Granat, Marat Izmailov, Dmitri Kombarov, Kirill Nababkin, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Igor Semshov, Roman Sharonov, Anton Shunin
Czech Republic: Peter Cech;Theo Gebre Selassie, Roman Hubnik, Michal Kadlec, Tomas Sivok; Petr Jiracek, Vaclav Pilar, Jaroslav Plasil, Jan Rezek (Tomas Hubschman 46'), Tomas Rosicky; Milan Baros (David Lafata 85')
Subs not used: Vladimir Darida, Jaroslav Drobny, Daniel Kolar, Jan Lastuvka, David Limbersky, Tomas Necid, Tomas Pekhart, Milan Petrzela, Frantisek Rajtoral, Marek Suchy
Referee: Howard Webb
Alan Finn is a Sligo based reporter and currently studying journalism. He created Thebitoredblog and joined ExtraTime in February of 2012. Follow him on twitter @AlanF1994