Russia avenged a 1-0 home loss to Slovakia at the start of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with an away win by the same scoreline, Alan Dzagoev's goal ending their opponents' hopes of a top-two finish in Group B.
The 21-year-old PFC CSKA Moskva midfielder powered a shot from 25 metres past Ján Mucha to leave Dick Advocaat's men within touching distance of the final tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Russia are certain of taking one of the top two spots in the section and will reach the finals as group winners if they can get a point against Andorra on Tuesday. Slovakia showed plenty of willingness but, while this was a marked improvement on their 4-0 loss to Armenia last time out, they have now failed to score in three games.
With temperatures dipping in Zilina, Roman Pavlyuchenko warmed to his task the fastest, twice testing Mucha in the early stages before rounding the goalkeeper only to miss from a tight angle. Juraj Kucka and Erik Jendrišek had efforts in reply for Slovakia, but Russia looked the more threatening side in those early stages, and Mucha pulled off an excellent save to deny Andrey Arshavin on 22 minutes.
Slovakia looked to build up some momentum as half-time approached, with Russia goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev increasingly called into action, but while Filip Hološko fashioned a decent chance after the interval, the visitors' threat never subsided. Roman Shirokov should have scored when Arshavin's ball left him with just Mucha to beat, and although he shot wide, with 19 minutes to go, Dzagoev did not. Slovakia could not redress the balance.