Strikes from Aleksei Miranchuk aided Russia to win their first Euro 2020 campaign with a 1-0 win over Finland in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday afternoon. Earlier the Russian team lost 3-0 to the Belgium side in their opening games at the weekend.
Finland, making their launch at a major international tournament, had beaten Denmark 1-0 in Copenhagen on Saturday, a game absolutely overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.
Here it was Russia’s Fernandes, the Brazilian-born CSKA Moscow right-back, who provided a bruise scare.
The 30-year-old went up for a highball in the Finland box in the first half and came down inappropriately, the back of his neck taking the full force of the landing.
He wanted to be stabilized and was stretchered off before being taken to the hospital.
The Russian team’s Twitter feed said he was undergoing tests for a suspected spinal injury.
Russia won the game without Fernandes, as Miranchuk turned on the edge of the box and played a one-two with skipper Artem Dzyuba before sending a glorious left-foot shot into the top corner of the net.
That was ok for the 2018 World Cup quarter-finalists to win the game but it could have been very different.
Finland thought they had gone in front inside three minutes when Joel Pohjanpalo moved to a Jukka Raitala cross.
Pohjanpalo who got the winner against Denmark was this time denied as a VAR check confirmed a marginal offside against the Bayer Leverkusen player.
Russia had the better chances and could have won by a wider margin, with Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky producing a superb fingertip save to deny Daler Kuzyaev in the second half.
Russia’s last group game will be in Denmark next Monday, while Finland should again have a great support behind them as they stay in Saint Petersburg to play Belgium.