Off-field troubles did not affect Russia – Slutsky

Lille (France) (AFP) – Russia coach Leonid Slutsky insisted his side were not affected by the country’s hooligan troubles after their 2-1 Euro 2016 defeat to Slovakia on Wednesday.

On the eve of the Group B game, Russia were told by UEFA they would be thrown out of the competition if there was a repeat of the crowd trouble that marred their 1-1 draw with England in Marseille on Saturday.

“No, it didn’t have any impact at all,” Slutsky said.

Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik made one goal and scored another in Wednesday’s game, with substitute Denis Glushakov pulling one back late on.

“If we had scored first it would have been different,” insisted Slutsky, who indicated that he was not worried by the igniting of a flare in the Russian end of the stadium after Glushakov’s goal.

Russia were fined for the use of fireworks and racist behaviour in their draw with England as well as being told any more crowd disturbances would lead to their expulsion.

“I was totally concentrated on the game and so I was only looking at the pitch. I didn’t see that,” said Slutsky.

Group rivals England and Wales meet in Lens on Thursday, but it now looks likely Russia will have to beat the Welsh in their last group game to progress to the last 16. 

“The situation in this group is very complex. Every team will have a chance of qualifying going into the final round of games,” he added.

“Of course Wales have two top players in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and we will pay attention to them, although it is not just going to be about individual players.”

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