MOSCOW (AFP) - Slovakia beat Russia 1-0 here on Tuesday to make it two wins from their first two Euro 2012 qualifiers and give them an early stranglehold on Group B.
Fenerbahce midfielder Miroslav Stoch was the man of the match, scoring the decisive goal in the 27th minute.
Slovakia's manager Vladimir Weiss said: "I'm very pleased with the result as we were playing against one of Europe's best teams tonight.
"We made the very best choice of tactics as playing attacking style football against Russia could be fatal.
"I'm proud of my players, thay gave all they had for this win."
Russia started in lively style, serving up four corners in the opening 10 minutes to keep Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha on his toes.
But it was to no avail as the Slovaks defended stoutly, while Mucha was in command of his net; stopping and deflecting everything that came his way.
Slovakia took the lead against the run of play when Stoch fired the ball into the top right-hand corner with a powerful shot from the edge of the box after a mix-up in the Russian defence.
Dick Advocaat's side tried in vain for an equaliser, their efforts not helped by inaccuracy in front of Slovakia's net.
Stuttgart striker Pavel Pogrebnyak missed a clear chance to level with a minute remaining before the break but his 10-yard shot hit the side netting.
Slovakia created a series of chances after the restart but failed to extend their lead.
In the 50th minute Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov sent the ball into the net but Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere ruled the effort offside.
Five minutes later Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin also had a chance to pull the scores level but his unopposed seven-yard shot went inches wide.
Russia, 2-0 winners over Andorra last Friday in their qualifying opener, upped the tempo, keeping the Slovaks under constant pressure as the clock ticked down but lacked the killer touch.
"Sometimes it happens," Advocaat said. "We created a set of scoring chances and we deserved to score at least once.
"We still have eight matches ahead and still have a chance to win the prize. Tonight luck definitely was not on our side and we failed to perform collectively like the Slovaks did."
Slovakia, who beat Macedonia 1-0 at home in a hard-fought first game, top Group B with six points. Russia are on three points with Ireland, who are in action against Andorra in Dublin later on Tuesday.
Russia and Slovakia are no strangers as they were drawn together in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Their two games ended deadlocked at 1-1 in Moscow and 0-0 at Bratislava.
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia and injury-hit Slovakia, who shared a World Cup qualifying group, resume hostilities on the road to Euro 2012 on Tuesday.
Both teams started their qualifying campaigns with wins on Friday with Russia chalking up a nervy 2-0 victory at little Andorra, while Slovakia scraped a hard-fought 1-0 home win against Macedonia.
The teams share a tough Group B with Ireland who saw off Armenia 1-0 in Yerevan on Friday and look to have a home banker in Dublin on Tuesday against Andorra.
There was nothing to separate Russia and Slovakia in World Cup qualifying with their two games ending deadlocked at 1-1 in Moscow and 0-0 at Bratislava.
But it was Slovakia who went on to make the finals in South Africa while Russia perished in the play-offs at the hands of Slovenia.
Russia coach Dick Advocaat is optimistic about Tuesday's clash.
"We started this qualifying campaign with a strong desire to show our worth," Advocaat said.
"It's the last chance to play in the European championship finals for a group of our players.
"We must make the Euro 2012 finals. It's very important for Russia after the country failed to qualify for this year's World Cup.
"We all understand the importance of the upcoming match. We need to win it. It would be good to show also spectacular football but the result is the most important thing in this case."
Slovakia manager Vladimir Weiss knows Russia well having coached a crop of Premier League clubs in the country and the team were buoyed by beating Italy in the World Cup finals in the summer before progressing to the second round.
Slovakia midfielder Kamil Kopunek, who plays with Russian Premier League side Ramenskoye, said he and his teammates were looking forward to the match at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium.
"We will do our best to win," said Kopunek, who scored Slovakia's winner in the match against Italy.
"A draw, of course, will also be a positive result for us but we will battle for the win."
Slovakia will be without attacking midfielder Stanislav Sestak, their top scorer in the World Cup qualifying campaign, who is sidelined with injury.
Slovakia's team doctor Lasislav Pavlovic said that forward Tomas Oravec will also miss the match.
Striker Robert Vittek, the team's leading marksman in the World Cup finals, remains uncertain through injury.
"The decision about his participation in the match will be finalised on Tuesday," Pavlovic said.
Russia should field a full-strength side with Yury Zhirkov, who plays with English champions Chelsea, available after serving a one-match suspension.