Russia began Euro 2012 with the same counter attacking flair and dynamism that made them crowd favorites at Euro 2008. From the first whistle Russia was able to put the Czech Republic on the back foot and take advantage of the mistakes made by their opponent. The scoring began in the 15th minute when Zyryanov's floated cross found the head of Kerzhakov. The headed ball went off the post, but bounced to the waiting Dzagoez and the young gun made sure the second chance found the back of the net.


Full Match Highlights Here


The mistakes and shortcomings of the Czech defense were repeatedly exploited by the skillful Russian attack.  Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech has his hands full for the entire match and did not play up to the usual standard he has set as a Champions League winning keeper.  His woes continued after his defense left him hanging on a counter-attack and Andrei Arshavin found Roman Shirokov with a ball that eviscerated the Czech defense before Shirokov easily finished with Russia's second goal.  Just three minutes later Howard Webb denied Russia a penalty after Kadlec barged into Arshavin. Russia dominated the remainder of the first half and looked good value for their lead at the half.


The introduction of holding midfielder Tomas Hubschman at halftime restored some life to the Czechs.  Seven minutes after the restart, Vaclav Pilar beat the offside trap and rounded Malafeev to put the game back within reach for the Czechs. The Czech attack was led throughout the match by Jaroslav Plasil. Plasil's expansive passing led to five opportunities for the Czechs including the ball that allowed Pilar to beat the offside trap. In the ensuing minutes, the Czechs were unable to take advantage of the momentum and were overrun in the midfield by the superior Russian midfield. Gebre Selassie was able to force a save from Malafeev, but that was their best opportunity to equalize.


Aleksandr Kerzhakov set a record by missing all seven of his shots, with not a single effort reaching the target. Despite Kerzhakov's wasteful shooting, Russia was able to put the game out of reach following his exit.  Dzagoev fired an unstoppable shot past Cech following a beautiful through ball by Roman Pavlyuchenko in the 79th minute.  Russia added one more to their impressive total when Roman Pavlyuchenko danced around the Czech defense and unleashed a vicious shot off the fingertips of Petr Cech into the goal.

It was a thoroughly dominant performance from Russia, and they claimed their expected spot at the top of Group A.  The Czech Republic will now have a long road ahead to qualify, with tough matches upcoming against Greece and Poland.  Despite the hardships faced by the Czechs in the opening match, qualification is possible if they are able to gain a valuable result against Greece on Tuesday.