Russia gained the final berth in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying play-offs as Slovakia were unable to claim the five-goal victory they needed to pip their opponents to second place in Group 3.
Having lost 4-0 in Moscow 13 months ago, Slovakia needed to better that as they trailed Russia by three points prior to kick-off in a pool long since won by Portugal. Slovakia were clearly motivated in Senec, and on 15 minutes MFK Ružomberok midfield player Igor Zofcak broke the deadlock as he did in the 2-1 win against Estonia on Friday, today's goal created by Blažej Vaščák.
Russia hold on
However, a combination of tight Russian defending and some wasted Slovakian chances ensured the visitors restricted their opponents to one goal and moved into tomorrow's draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland at 13.00CET. They will be at home in their first leg on 12 November, and will travel to their opponents - one of the seven group winners - four days later.
Slovakia coach Jozef Bubenko, in charge for the last time before he returns to Greek side Panionios NFC, said: "I am satisfied with the result. We played one of our best games today, producing good teamwork. We had chances, but it was too difficult to score five goals. I guess finishing equal on points with Russia can be considered as a success."