Russia vs. Czech Republic  4 - 1

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Euro 2012 Group A: Russia 4 Czech Republic 1

9 June 2012 16:13

A brace from Alan Dzagoev was the highlight of an impressive attacking display by Russia in Group A.

Dzagoev and Roman Shirokov netted before half time to put the Eastern Europeans in a commanding position, although they could have led by more if not for wasteful finishing.

Vaclav Pilar then gave the Czechs a shout of getting something from the game with his strike, but Russia saved the best for last as Dzagoev and Roman Pavlyuchenko both scored in the last 15 minutes to seal an emphatic opening victory.

Russia were content to sit back at the beginning, but they had demonstrated their ability in front of goal with last week's destruction of Italy.

Apparently the Czech defence had not learnt the lesson; a fluid counterattack spearheaded by Alan Dzagoev led to Aleksandr Kerzhakov hitting the post, but Dzagoev was on hand to fire home the rebound and give Dick Advocaat's men the lead with just 15 minutes played.

The goal was the cue for Russia to take a stranglehold on proceedings. Dzagoev was played in one on one with Petr Cech following a neat pass from Kerzhakov, but the CSKA Moscow star snatched at his effort and could only find the side-netting.

Andrei Arshavin was the inspiration for the second. He split open the defence with a brilliant pass across the area, which was met by Roman Shirokov to chip over the prostrate Cech and double the advantage.

The Czechs, meanwhile, barely tested Vyacheslav Malafeev at the other end, and would have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle.

Michal Bilek's team came out after the break looking to reduce the deficit, but they were frustrated by a Russian outfit determined to deny their opponents the slightest glimpse on goal.

Seven minutes into the half, however, they reduced the arrears.

A wonderful pass from Jaroslav Plasil opened the Russian defence for the first time, and Vaclav Pilar was the beneficiary as he controlled the ball instantly, took it round Malafeev and slotted in a much-needed lifeline.

Advocaat's side, however, remained dangerous and should really have sewn up the game with 20 minutes gone of the second half.

Kerzhakov broke the offside trap perfectly to go clean through, but his torrid evening in front of goal continued as he dragged his shot well wide to blow a golden opportunity.

It just was not to be the Zenit hitman's day. Another decent effort blazed to the left of Cech's post, followed by an attempt on his weaker left foot moments marked the sixth and seventh shots on goal of the evening for Aleksandr, without once forcing a save from the Chelsea goalkeeper.

The game was wrapped up in the closing 15 minutes when more fluid Russian passing sent Dzagoev away in the area, and the CSKA man proved he had no problem converting as he blasted home.

And minutes after come off the bench for Kherzakov, Pavlyuchenko added a fourth with a high shot into the roof of the net.

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Euro 2012 Group A preview: Czech Republic v Russia

8 June 2012 10:28

The Czech Republic heads into battle with old enemy Russia in Friday's Euro 2012 opener, with striker Milan Baros battling to be fit.

The Galatasaray front man strained a muscle in training on Tuesday running a scare through the camp despite later scans revealing no major damage for the 30-year-old.

Baros, the top scorer at Euro 2004, has bagged 41 goals at international level and is one of coach Michal Bilek's leading men along with Premier League stars Petr Cech and captain Tomas Rosicky, who has recovered from a calf injury.

Czech Republic team manager Vladimir Smicer will have fond memories of the two countries' last meeting at Euro 1996, when his late goal salvaged a 3-3 draw to put the Czechs through and eliminate Russia.

The Czechs were eventual runners-up at that tournament and again will be confident of going far this time around with Group A providing the easiest platform of the four groups to do so.

Russia may well prove the stiffest of opponents in a weaker group also including Euro 2004 winners Greece and hosts Poland.

All four are dangers to one another in an even group but Dick Advocaat's Russia, on the back of a 14-game unbeaten streak, are sure to pose problems for a young Czech side.

A 3-0 defeat of Italy in Zurich last Friday completed Russia's excellent preparations for the tournament and reminded opponents of their impending threat.

Key to the side's cohesion is the fact that as many as seven players including goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev, defender Alexandr Anyukov, midfielders Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyryanov and forwards in captain Andrei Arshavin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov played in Zenit St Petersburg's title winning side in this season's Russian Premier League.

Arsenal's Arshavin did so on-loan after his form tapered under Arsene Wenger but he has 71 caps to his name and will expect another big tournament as one of the mainstays in the Russian side.

Malafeev could get the nod in goal on Friday with first choice keeper Igor Akinfeev battling to overcome a knee injury.