Euro 2012: Russia thrash Czech 4 - 1

By BBC
By BBC

6/9/2012 12:30:22 AM -

Russia produced a powerful performance as two goals by Alan Dzagoev helped dismantle Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2012 game.

Dzagoev gave Dick Advocaat's side the lead with a shot after Aleksandr Kerzhakov headed against the post.

Roman Shirokov made it 2-0 with a chip following good work by Andrey Arshavin.

Vaclav Pilar reduced the deficit before two thunderous finishes by Dzagoev and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko completed the rout.

Russia were as ruthless in Wroclaw as the Czechs were poor.

Czech coach Michal Bilek now faces a huge task lifting his deflated players ahead of their next game against Greece on 12 June, a match they cannot afford to lose if they are to advance in the tournament.

With co-hosts Poland earlier held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Greece, both teams knew victory at the Municipal Stadium would earn them an early lead at the top of the group.

And Russia, semi-finalists in 2008 under Guus Hiddink, are going to take some stopping as they showed they mean business in the tournament.

Arshavin, on loan at Zenit St Petersburg from Arsenal, was inspirational, setting up one goal during an inspirational performance from the 31-year-old.

Czech Republic had Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky winning their 91st and 86th caps respectively yet even their vast experience failed to prevent their opponents from racing into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 25 minutes.

Attacking midfielder Dzagoev, who turns 22 next week, showed terrific composure to break the deadlock with a first-time finish from 12 yards after Kerzhakov had headed against the far post in the 15th minute.

It should have been 2-0 moments later when Arshavin picked out the marauding Dzagoev on the right. This time, however, the CSKA Moscow player sliced his shot wide when he should have done better.

But the Czechs were left conducting another post mortem when Shirokov doubled the lead in the 25th minute after lifting the ball over Cech after an angled pass by Arshavin.

Michal Bilek's side were fortunate not to concede a penalty before half-time when Jaroslav Plasil pushed Arshavin in the back inside the Czech penalty area.

But referee Howard Webb, who did not book a single player, opted against pointing to the spot, television replays showing the Premier League official should have awarded a penalty.

Russia, who were totally in control, might have complained more had they known what was to come in the early stages of the second half.

Having looked down and out, Plasil split the Russian defence wide open with a delightful 52nd-minute pass which allowed Pilar to round the keeper and bring the Czechs back to life.

But Russia were superior throughout and two goals in the space of three minutes late in the game illustrated the gulf between the two teams.

Dzagoev made it 3-1 with a powerful shot from inside the area after being set up by substitute Pavlyuchenko.

And former Tottenham player Pavlyuchenko completed a fine Russian performance with a superb finish from 15 yards.