Euro 2020: Russia throws hat in Group B contending ring with win over Finland

Aleksey Miranchuk Russia Euro 2020
Russia’s Aleksei Miranchuk celebrates scoring their first goal.
Pool via REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev

On a day where Russian president Vladimir Putin met with US President Joe Biden, his national soccer team picked up a 1-0 victory over Finland on Matchday 2 of Group B action Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg.

Russia’s dominance over Finland continued to a fifth-straight win, its last loss against one of its neighbors coming in the 1912 Olympics.

Aleksey Miranchuk provided the lone goal of the match two minutes into first-half stoppage time, moving Russia up into second place past Finland, which controversially won its opening match of Euro 2020 against Denmark after play was resumed just hours after Christian Eriksen collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the pitch.

Now three teams in Group B have three points with the group leaders and World No. 1 Belgium meeting Denmark on Thursday afternoon.

Joel Pohjanpalo looked as though he continued Finland’s dream run at the Euros when he headed home Jukka Raitala’s cross from the left in the third minute, but VAR confirmed that the forward’s head was just offside at the start of his run in the box.

With new life, Russia quickly took over the game and spent most of the opening half in Finland’s half — but an inability to connect on that lethal ball saw a majority of their chances fall by the wayside as they tried to walk the ball into the net.

In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Miranchuk put Russia up by striking a left-footed shot from the right of the box just inside the opposite post.

Finland never looked as though it would find a way back as Russia slowed down the match.

Teemu Pukki provided the best chance of the final 45 minutes for Finland when his right-footed effort from the left side of the box was saved by Matvei Safonov.

For Finland, they’ll now have to try and snag at least a point in Matchday 3 to ensure that they could at least be a third-place finisher to try and squeak into the knockout phase of the tournament.

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