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* Dzagoyev scores twice in rampant display
* Odds cut on Russia to win tournament
By Mark Meadows
WROCLAW, June 8 Russia produced the sort of
football purists dream of and gave the Czech Republic a lesson
in moving the ball quickly, effectively and beautifully on
Friday as they announced themselves as potential Euro 2012
Alan Dzagoyev scored twice in the 4-1 triumph in their Group
A opener but little maestro Andrei Arshavin took many of the
plaudits for threading the sort of cute little passes which give
nightmares to cumbersome defenders.
Odds were quickly slashed on Dick Advocaat's men winning the
tournament but with a long way to go and a potentially tough
quarter-final against the Germans, Dutch or Portuguese, they
will have to keep this form going for a few weeks yet.
"The Czechs left some space which made us dangerous,"
Advocaat, a Dutchman schooled in the pass and move groove, told
"For the first game I am happy about it. Andrei played a
very good game. He worked very hard. He was very important for
the team the way he can play."
Asked if his side were now among the favourites, even before
12 of the 16 teams have played, Advocaat exuded the sort of
realism which Russia will need if they are to avoid a repeat of
their 2008 semi-final failure after being equally hyped.
"It is most important we won the first game. At the end is
when you lift the trophy, not now," he said, keeping his eyes
fixed on the rest of Group A - where Poland drew 1-1 with Greece
earlier - rather than the final in Kiev on July 1.
The Czechs actually started the game the better, controlling
possession until a quick break after 15 minutes had Russia in
Alexander Kerzhakov hit the post with a header, the closest
he came on an otherwise profligate night in front of goal, only
for Dzagoyev to coolly strike home the rebound.
It got worse for Michal Bilek's men as soon waves of
Russians poured forward with the ball almost always played to
feet along the slick pitch coated with a shower of rain.
The moment of the match came when Arshavin - who seemed to
have lost all his mercurial powers in recent years after wowing
Euro 2008 - showed their was life in the Russian bear yet with
the most effortless but the most destructive pass imaginable.
Roman Shirokov then flicked the ball over goalkeeper Petr
Cech with another spot of brilliance to net the second and
thrill a sizeable contingent of Russians inside the impressive
bowled Wroclaw stadium.
The Czech border is not so far away from the Polish host
city but it was an unhappy journey back for their army of
painted-faced fans after watching their side show signs of
promise but little more.
Vaclav Pilar's 52nd-minute goal which made it 2-1 was well
worked and briefly made a game of it.
They upped the pressure though and with the Czechs tiring,
especially left back Michal Kadlec who was picked to bomb
forward on every occasion but left dangerous holes, the match
was put to bed in emphatic fashion.
The craft and the guile was still present in the move for
the third but Dzagoyev's thumping 79th-minute finish was a sign
that Russia can also do power.
Substitute striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, who could find
himself in the starting lineup for Russia's next match against
Poland in Warsaw on June 12 given Kerzhakov's wastefulness, then
bamboozled the defence and buried his fierce shot into the net
three minutes later for the fourth.
"We scored the goal but we were losing the ball again and
our opponents punished us for this," said Bilek.
(Editing by Mitch Phillips)