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Slovakia squeeze past Latvia to top Group G

Published: Friday 12 October 2012, 22.15CET
Slovakia 2-1 Latvia
Early goals from Marek Hamšík and Marek Sapara ensured Māris Verpakovskis's late penalty was not enough to prevent the home team earning three more points.
by Rastislav Hribik
from Bratislava
Slovakia squeeze past Latvia to top Group G
Marek Hamšík celebrates after giving Slovakia the lead against Latvia ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Friday 12 October 2012, 22.15CET

Slovakia squeeze past Latvia to top Group G

Slovakia 2-1 Latvia
Early goals from Marek Hamšík and Marek Sapara ensured Māris Verpakovskis's late penalty was not enough to prevent the home team earning three more points.

Slovakia claimed their second FIFA World Cup qualifying Group G victory at home to Latvia to go top of the section.

Marek Hamšík opened the scoring from the penalty spot on six minutes and Marek Sapara doubled the advantage just four minutes later. Latvia rallied after the break and, although Māris Verpakovskis's late spot kick gave them hope, the hosts held on.

Michal Hipp's side have made an impressive start to their qualifying campaign and flew out of blocks against Latvia. Goalkeeper Andris Vaņins felled Vladimír Weiss inside the penalty area and Hamšík converted from the spot to give them an early advantage. Things got better for the hosts shortly afterwards when Sapara's free-kick beat Vaņins for his third goal of the campaign.

Latvia almost responded immediately through Artjoms Rudnevs but the Hamburger SV forward missed from close range. Oleg Laizans's shot was then repelled by Dušan Kuciak as Slovakia maintained their two-goal lead.

The visitors continued to push forward in the second half but Verpakovskis's 84th-minute penalty proved to be too little, too late as the hosts safely saw the game out. In their next fixtures on Tuesday, Slovakia host Greece and Latvia entertain Liechtenstein.

Last updated: 08/05/14 7.35CET

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