Victory for Mak, Kace on the bench
Róbert Mak’s Slovakia recorded an important win on matchday 2 of the UEFA EURO 2016 and have a good chance of making it to the last “16” stage. Ergys Kace’s Albania however are hoping for a miracle, after their loss to France.
Róbert Mak (Slovakia – Russia 2-1)
Róbert Mak was in Slovakia’s starting line-up for a second consecutive time in Euro 2016. The PAOK winger was good in his 80 minutes on the pitch and made Igor Akinfeev work hard to stop his shot on goal in the 54th minute. He was substituted ten minutes from time.
Slovakia put their loss to Wales behind them and prevailed over Russia totally outplaying them at times. In the 32nd minute, Marek Hamsik teed up Vladimir Weiss whose smart move and impeccable finish made it 1-0 for the Slovaks. Scorer turned provider and vice versa in the 45th minute, when Hamsik unleashed a belter to extend his team’s lead.
Russia improved considerably after the interval, looking for a comeback, but they only managed to reduce distances with a header by Glushakov on an assist by Shatov. Despite Russia’s desperate attempts in the last minutes, the Slovaks held on and celebrated a victory that gives them legitimate hope for qualification.
Ergys Kace (France – Albania 2-0)
Ergys Kace has been unlucky, as he was forced to withdraw from Tuesday’s training session due to knee pains. The medical tests showed nothing serious, he wasn’t in pain on Wednesday, but coach Gianni Di Biasi chose not to risk his participation in the encounter against the French and have him ready and rested for the Romania decider on matchday 3.
Albania proved a tough nut to crack for the French. However the hosts managed to snatch the three-pointer in the last minute of the encounter and celebrated their qualification to the knockout stages. They will face Switzerland on matchday 3 in a match that will determine top spot of the group.
The first half was very mediocre, but the second was thrilling. In the 52nd minute, the Albanians had a shot on post with Sagna coming close to an own-goal. Seventeen minutes later, Giroud also saw his effort denied by woodwork. The French finally managed to break the deadlock n the last minute when Griezmann connected Sagna’s cross to head home. Deep into stoppage time, Dimitri Payet sealed victory with his second goal in the tournament.
Matchday 3 fixtures
On matchday3, Albania play their last hand against Romania on Sunday 19 June (22:00). Kace’s team need a victory with a broad score, in order to entertain hope to make it to qualify as one of the best 3rd-placed teams. A tall order, yet not impossible. Slovakia will face England on Monday 20 June (22:00). They will qualify with a win and will finish second with a draw if Russia prevail over Wales at the same time.