UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 6

Marek Hamsik scored a stunning goal as Slovakia beat Russia to secure a first win at a European Championship. The Napoli midfielder’s measured pass set up Vladimir Weiss, who cut inside and side-footed Slovakia ahead. Hamsik then spectacularly doubled the lead, receiving a short corner out wide before firing a shot in off the post. Russia face disqualification if their fans misbehave inside stadiums and a flare was seen among their supporters when Denis Glushakov headed in late on. That appeared to be the only issue for authorities inside Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy, in contrast to last week’s scenes in Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, where Russian fans charged into a section for England supporters after the final whistle in the draw between the two countries.

Russia will now almost certainly need to beat Wales on Monday if they are to stand any chance of progress, while Slovakia know victory over England will see them through. The ball to free Weiss took advantage of Russia’s early positivity. Right-back Igor Smolnikov had continuously joined attacks and his poor positioning saw Hamsik curl a pass into space from deep.

Romania picked up their first point at Euro 2016 as Switzerland moved closer to securing a spot in the last 16 with a hard-fought draw at Parc des Princes. A win would have put Switzerland through to the knockout stages but they were left with work to do to get out of Group A after failing to take several early chances. Haris Seferovic was the main culprit, missing two clear-cut opportunities before Bogdan Stancu’s second penalty of the tournament gave Romania an 18th-minute lead. Russian referee Sergei Karasev pointed to the spot after Stephan Lichsteiner grabbed a handful of Alexandru Chipciu’s shirt inside the box, and Stancu netted despite stumbling as he struck the ball.

With Romania remaining dangerous on the break, Switzerland dominated possession but had to wait until the 57th minute to equalise. A corner was only half-cleared to Admir Mehmedi and he met the bouncing ball with an unstoppable first-time strike from 12 yards. Switzerland brought on highly rated teenager Breel Embolo for the final half hour to try to win the game, but Romania were resolute and kept alive their hopes of automatic qualification with one game to go. Just as in their first group game against Albania, it was Switzerland’s finishing that let them down after some neat build-up play. Seferovic showed a lack of composure in front of goal, first to fire wide from inside the area and then to shoot straight at Romania’s goalkeeper when Xherdan Shaqiri slid him through. Blerim Dzemali was also guilty of a bad miss, somehow heading wide after running on to Lichsteiner’s looping cross. Vladimir Petkovic’s side deserved something for their enterprising forward play, however, and they got it thanks to Mehmedi’s spectacular leveller.

Late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet saw hosts France edge past Albania to become the first side to reach the Euro 2016 knockout stage. Albania struck the post shortly after half-time when Ledian Memushaj bundled a cross past France keeper Hugo Lloris. France striker Olivier Giroud also hit the upright before substitute Griezmann ended Albania’s resistance by nodding in Adil Rami’s right-wing cross. Payet stroked in with the final kick to give the scoreline a flattering look. Les Bleus scored with the game’s only two shots on target, struggling to break down a stubborn Albania side as Giroud missed three free headers at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome. Defeat was harsh on the European Championship debutants, who looked to have done enough to earn their first point. France needed a late goal from Payet to beat Romania in Friday’s opening game, and another dramatic win means they are assured of a last-16 place before their final Group A match against Switzerland.

Albania, who lost their opening game against the Swiss, must beat Romania on Sunday to stand any chance of qualifying. Almost a year ago, Didier Deschamps experienced one of his lowest points as France manager as his side lost to Albania in a friendly. It was their third defeat in four international matches, a performance the French media described as “lacklustre”, “listless” and “worrying”. For almost 90 minutes here, it looked as though another performance against Giovanni de Biasi’s side would lead to an inquest on the back pages. Les Bleus were expected to breeze past a side ranked 42nd in the world, a place above Scotland, but lacked invention and creativity until Griezmann’s intervention. The Atletico Madrid forward’s glancing header brought relief to the majority of the 64,000 crowd, sparking celebrations similar to those that followed Payet’s winner against Romania.

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