Full-time: Slovakia 0-1 Russia
Full-time: Armenia 4-1 Macedonia
18.53 – Welcome to what is likely to be the night’s truly important fixture in Group B. With Ireland likely to beat Andorra barring the sort of disaster which should deny qualification regardless of what happens, this game is going to go the longest in terms of settling the group.
It’s simple enough really: if Russia get at least point then, given the fact they host Andorra on Tuesday, there’s virtually assured of top spot.
Slovakia need to win in order to keep the hopes for first of Ireland, Armenia and themselves alive.
19.01 – And the teans:
Russia: Malafeev; Aniukov, V Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Denisov, Shirokov, Dzagoev, Zyryanov, Arshavin; Pavlyuchenko
Slovakia: Mucha; Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan; Karhan, Hamsik, Stoch; Jendrisek, Kucka, Holosko
The big news: no Weiss nor Vittel for Slovakia. Which does blunt a team that has already been struggling to score somewhat.
19.04 – Sweden, by the by, are beating Finland 2-1 after 86 minutes. That effectively puts Norway out of contention in Group H – which Holland have already won. Sweden and Hungary have an effective play-off on Tuesday.
19.20 – As you’d expect from two teams who play three in the middle, a lot of passing about the centre of the pitch at the moment. Little penetration.
19.27 – Although Slovakia burst into life there with Karhan arriving out of the muddle to strike from defence and force an awkward save from Malafeev.
19.29 – Russia in control now with Arshavin pinging a few dangerous balls across the box.
19.35 – This isn’t quite the battering Ireland received but Russia are making Slovakia look very ordinary. They’ve really stepped it up over the last few games.
19.40 – Corner Slovakia. They finally break with Stoch’s long-range effort bringing a save from Malafeev
19.48 – Arshavin: what’s going on there? A constant danger tonight. A constant hindrance for Arsenal.
19.51 – Russia have lost just a little of their zip in the last few minutes, perhaps understandably as we come into last 10 minutes before half-time. Dick Advocaat isn’t happy though, coming out to remonstrate and throw his hands in the air.
19.54 – And we spoke far too soon! Massive chance there for Slovakia as Hamsik shows his class by bamboozling three Russian defenders with a turn and feeding a through ball to Holosko. But he had his back to goal, allowing Malafeev to claim it too easily. Should have been 1-0. Brilliant by Hamsik.
19.56 – Hamsik again looking dangerous on the egde of the Russian box but, just as he’s about to shape, the Russians bundle the ball back to Malafeev
19.57 – Slovakia suddenly playing with confidence. They’ve weathered Russia’s storm and Hamsik now looking like the player he often threatens to be. Still 0-0 though.
20.00 – Stoch has an effort but Malafeev saves
20.02 – Half-time: Slovakia 0-0 Russia
A half of two halves really. Russia completely dominant initially before Slovakia grew in confidence and Hamsik began to take control.
20.10 – Miguel refused to shake my hand as he came off the pitch there. And I’ve been told he’s changed in a hurry and has left the stadium.
I’ll be taking you through the next 45 minutes.
As Martin Tyler might say: it’s live, it’s in an Eastern European language I don’t understand, and it’s right here.. on a dodgy stream! We’ll be right back after half-time.
20.14 – The TV channel I’m watching is reshowing Richard Dunne v Russia as half-time entertainment. Is it too late to get four county councils to sign his form?
20.20 – The second-half gets underway… Come. On. You. Boys in White…
You can join Miguel for the Ireland game over here by the way.
20.24 – Slovakia chalk the first effort on goal of the half when Hološko gets a shot away after nice work and a lay-off from Hamsik.
Arshavin – you know that guy – however goes down the other end and tests Mucha in the other goal.
20.31 – It’s all very civilised here. Stoch has been booked, possible due to skin head profiling. There was some half-hearted appeals for a Slovakian penalty and in general the home side are holding their own.
Dare we dream?
20.35 – I don’t know how but Martin Skrtel just went through Arshavin for a short-cut and was awarded a free kick. I’m not complaining, mind.
Coming up on 65 minutes now.
20.37 – Dear me. Russia should be one up. Remember Shirokov? He missed a sitter after the ball was pulled back to him on on the six-yard box.
We’ve been here before, readers.
20.46 – As David Byrne sang? How did we get here? Well, a massive deflection is the answer.
The Russian took a pot shot – bought a ticket to the raffle as is the cliche – and won. Ireland will be reduced to settling for a play-off spot at the very most if it stays like this.
20.50 – Liveblog update template No 23: Pavlyuchenko misses the target.
21.00 – Slovakia have been penned back since they conceded that goal. It was what you’d call a flukey one, technically speaking.
That yellow card has caught up with Skrtel at last. We’re into the last moments here
Ireland are now two up in Andorra by the way. Miguel is on the case here.
And here’s a picture of Dick Advocaat on the Russian bench. Look at him there:
21.05 – We’ll have five whole minutes of added time. And Slovakia have a corner.
21.11 – Jendrišek’s shot – which flies wide – is the last shot of the game. Russia go top with Andorra to come in Moscow.
So that Armenia game on Tuesday looks like being a play-off for a play-off spot. We’ll be there at the Aviva for more live action but in the meantime, join Miguel for the rest of the Andorra game.
Thanks for you company.