• Slovakia start Group C campaign with away win at NSK Olimpiyskyi
• Róbert Mak puts visitors ahead with cool 17th-minute finish
• Edmar hits post for home side in second period
• Ján Ďurica and Norbert Gyömber rock-solid at heart of Slovak defence
• Next games: Belarus v Ukraine, Slovakia v Spain (9 October)
Slovakia began their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group C campaign on a winning note as Róbert Mak's goal and a resolute defensive effort sealed the points in Kyiv.
The game had a nervy start, with neither side willing to commit numbers forward, although the hosts looked to make inroads down the left flank where Oleh Gusev and Vyacheslav Shevchuk linked up. However, that duo were upstaged by Marek Hamšík, Vladimír Weiss and Mak at the other end, the trio combining to emphatic effect. They cut through Ukraine in the 17th minute when captain Hamšík slipped in Mak, who turned Yaroslav Rakitskiy expertly, sprinted clear and slotted in with his side-foot.
The away team continued to be the more threatening; Ďurica heading over a Mak free-kick from five metres before the goalscorer curled over from just outside the area. Ukraine had been restricted to long-range attempts, but in the dying moments of the half created two clear chances. However, Matúš Kozáčik made an excellent stop to deny Taras Stepanenko's header before Roman Zozulya failed to send his effort on target when faced with an open goal.
Mykhailo Fomenko's men pushed after the interval and Edmar nodded against the base of post before driving the rebound straight at Kozáčik. In the 65th minute the equaliser appeared certain when Artem Fedetskiy's inswinging cross from the left found the onrushing Edmar but he could only connect with his knee and the ball flew over.
Mak surged clear only to fire narrowly wide as Slovakia tried to halt the Ukrainian momentum, a job at which central defenders Ďurica and Norbert Gyömber excelled as the clock ticked down. The home side hurled long balls into the area yet were repelled every time as Ján Kozak's charges held on to start with a win.
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