Russia wins 1-0 in Euro qualifier in Slovakia
Russia took a big step toward qualifying for the 2012 European Championship by winning 1-0 at Slovakia in Group B on Friday.
Alan Dzagoev scored the winner in the 71st minute with a long-range shot from 25 meters (yards) that was deflected into the net by Slovak defender Jan Durica.
''I congratulate my players,'' Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. ''We deserved to win. It was key for us that we eliminated (Slovak playmaker Marek) Hamsik.''
Russia tops Group B with 20 points and faces Andorra in its final qualifier. Ireland, on 18 points, is second after beating Andorra 2-0.
Armenia beat Macedonia 4-1 move to 17 points before its final game at Ireland.
Slovakia remains on 14 points and out of contention before its last game at Macedonia.
Missing key strikers Robert Vittek and Stanislav Sestak, Slovakia didn't find the net for the third consecutive qualifier.
''We again failed to score,'' Slovak defender Martin Skrtel said. ''The Russians scored and deserved to win.''
Unmarked in the area, Roman Shirokov wasted another scoring chance in the second half for the visitors when he failed to hit the target from 10 meters (yards).
Slovakia: Jan Mucha, Peter Pekarik, Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica, Tomas Hubocan, Miroslav Karhan (Filip Sebo, 86), Marek Hamsik, Miroslav Stoch, Erik Jendrisek, Juraj Kucka (Karim Guede, 73), Filip Holosko (Vladimir Weiss, 73).
Russia: Vyacheslav Malafeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Vasili Berezutski, Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov (Aleksei Berezutski, 90), Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Alan Dzagoev (Aleksandr Samedov, 90) , Roman Pavlyuchenko (Pavel Pogrebnyak, 87), Andrey Arshavin.