Red-hot Russia kick off their Euro 2012 challenge with a 4-1 win over Czechs
Russia 4-1 Czech Republic
Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw
Friday 8 June 2012
Russia took control of Group A following a classy and clinical victory over the Czech Republic.
Alan Dzagoev scored twice and goals from Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavlyuchenko ensured Dick Advocaat’s men finished day one of Euro 2012 on top.
Vaclav Pilar made it 2-1 six minutes after the break for the Czechs but Dzagoev capped a fine display by grabbing his second late on before Pavlyuchenko rounded it off in style.
Following an entertaining 1-1 draw between Poland and Greece in the tournament’s opening match, this clash in Wroclaw gave the victors the chance to make an early statement of intent.
And Russia, seen as the group’s strongest side, lived up to their billing with a clinical performance.
Advocaat’s men have lost just once in two years since his arrival and Dzagoev set the ball rolling on 15 minutes when he rifled past Petr Cech after Aleksandr Kerzhakov’s header hit the post.
Dzagoev should have made it 2-0 four minutes later but he screwed his shot wide - although it wasn’t long before the Czechs and Cech were punished again.
Andriy Arshavin’s pass just eluded Kerzhakov but Shirokov was on hand to clip an impudent effort over Chelsea goalkeeper Cech to double the lead.
While Arshavin looked menacing, Kerzhakov endured a difficult first half and he blasted his effort over the bar when he really should have made it 3-0 following another sweeping Russia attack.
The Czechs, who reached the Final in 1996 and the semi-final in 2004, needed a play-off to get to the Championship this time and were over-run in the opening 45 minutes.
Yet the second half began in a similar pattern, with Arshavin causing all sorts of problems and Kerzhakov once again squandering a decent chance.
But just when it looked as if Russia would stroll to victory, Pilar struck. He raced through on to Jaroslav Plasil’s precise pass and rounded Vyacheslav Malafeev to give Michal Bilek’s side hope.
Dzagoev, though, added his second of the game on 80 minutes before substitute Pavlyuchenko - on for the hapless Kerzhakov - smashed in a wonderful fourth two minutes later.
Malafeev, Anyukov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Berezutski; Shirokov, Denisov, Zyranov; Dazgoev (Kokorin 84), Arshavin, Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 73)
Substitutes not used: Akinfeev, Shunin, Sharonov, Granat, Nababkin, Izmailov, Kombarov, Glushakov, Semshov, Pogrebnyak
Coach: Dick Advocaat
Goals: Dzagoev 15, Shirokov 24, Dzgaoev 80, Pavlyuchenko 82
Cech, Gebre Selassie, Kadlec, Hubnik, Sivok; Rezek (Hubschman 46), Rosicky; Plasil, Pilar, Jiracek (Petrzela 75); Baros (Lafata 85)
Substitutes not used: Lastuvka, Drobny, Suchy, Limbersky, Rajtoral, Kolar, Darida, Necid, Pekhart
Coach: Michal Bilek
Goals: Pilar 51
Howard Webb (England)