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Sylvestr strikes keep Slovakia in contention

Slovakia 2-1 Serbia
Boris Kitka's side gave their play-off hopes a sizeable shot in the arm thanks to two goals from striker Jakub Sylvestr.

Jakub Sylvestr (left) scored both Slovakia goals
Jakub Sylvestr (left) scored both Slovakia goals ©Eleonora Szombatova

Slovakia enhanced their chances of claiming a UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off place with a 2-1 victory against Serbia.

Boris Kitka's side trailed Group 7 leaders Croatia at the start of the day and would have found themselves third in the section had Serbia prevailed in Zlate Moravce. They remain two points adrift of top spot, though – following Croatia's 4-1 win against Norway – ahead of their final fixture against Tor Ole Skullerund's men on 7 September. Victory came courtesy of two Jakub Sylvestr goals (14, 60), with Filip Duričić finding the net on 69 minutes to ensure a nervy finish for the hosts.

Slovakia started comfortably with captain Erik Grendel spurning an early chance before Sylvestr pounced on Erik Čikoš' parried shot to put his side in front. Slovakia threatened sporadically, Jagoš Vukovič's header calling Martin Dúbravka into a fine save, but they were fortunate to be only a goal behind at half-time, Čikoš again going within a whisker of finding the net.

The second did come on the hour, Grendel laying on Sylvestr with a precise pass which the ŠK Slovan Bratislava striker slotted past Branislav Danilović after shrugging off Milan Milanović's challenge. Duričić came off the bench to turn in Dušan Tadić's cross and halve the deficit but Slovakia hung on and even went close to restoring their two-goal cushion through Sylvestr and Marek Kuzma.

Slovakia coach Boris Kitka was delighted with the result. "The players showed their pride at being part of the national team and I am very proud to be their coach," he said. Matchwinner Sylvestr added: "I am very happy with the two goals I scored, but it could have been a hat-trick given the chance I had five minutes from time. We never give up and want to achieve our goal."