Russia dealt a serious blow to the dream of the Finnish national team of entering the round of 16 of this European Championship.
The squad coached by Markku Kanerva will have to wait for the last match of this group stage - in which it faces the fearsome Belgium - to see if they can move forward in the tournament or if they should return home. The Finns tried hard on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, but they hardly disturbed Russia, who led the game for most of the match.
Russia ended a winless run of six games at the Euros with a 1-0 victory over Finland on Wednesday to throw their group wide open again.
Atalanta's Aleksey Miranchuk's classy goal into the top corner gave Russia full points in St Petersburg and kept them in the hunt for a place in the last 16.
Russia were the dominant team but also rather wasteful in a meeting of nations who are better known for their ice hockey skills.
Early goal disallowed
Finland, who would have qualified for the last 16 with a victory, were unlucky to have an early goal from Joel Pohjanpalo disallowed for a marginal offside position.
Russia and Finland join Belgium on three points in Group B, with the Red Devils however still to play their second game on Thursday against Denmark who are on zero points.
Both have their fate on their own hand in the final games where Russia play Denmark and Finland face Belgium.
"The victory was most important. We have completed the task and are moving on," Miranchuk told Match TV, with coach Stanislav Cherchesov saying: "We are happy with the way the players played. Everyone fulfilled his task. Of course we needed to be more precise."
Finland's Kamara (R) battles for the ball with a Russian opponent. Photo: Twitter/@EURO2020.
"We wanted to devastate Russia"
Finland coach Markku Kanerva said: "We are disappointed. We wanted to play to win. The decision on the early goal was hard. We wanted to devastate Russia. I don't know if it had affected the game but it would have put pressure on Russia."
Finland, who warmed up in "Get Well Christian" shirts as a salute to Dane Christian Eriksen who had suffered cardiac arrest during the teams' opening game on Saturday which the Fins won 1-0, thought they had a dream start into the game.
Pohjanpalo headed home a cross after a terrible Russian defensive mistake three minutes into the game - only to be ruled offside by the video assistant referee by the smallest of margins.
That woke up the Russians as the unmarked Magomed Ozdoev blazed over the bar in the 10th, and striker Artem Dzyuba hit the left post four minutes later, but was ruled offside.
Mario Fernandes was the latest injured Russian as he had to be carried off after badly falling on his back, with Vyacheslav Karavaev taking his place.
Russia's Aleksei Miranchuk celebrates his goal. Photo: Twitter/@EURO2020.
Russia broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time, with Miranchuk superbly curling into top far left corner after a one-two with Dzyuba who could have even added a second before intermission but only managed a tame header.
Golovin aimed inches wide shortly after the restart, substitute Rifat Zhemaletdinov had two big opportunities and the unmarked Daler Kuzyaev forced a super save from goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky with a curling shot as Russia failed to get a second.
But they won for the first time since a 4-1 over the Czech Republic in their first game at Euro 2012, where they went out in the group stage as in 2016.
"That's football. It is important that we are creating chances," Miranchuk said about the missed chances.