Slovak footballers won 2: 0 in Cyprus in the qualification for the world championship. Goals were scored by Ivan Schranz in the 55th minute and Martin Koscelník in the 78th minute. The Cypriots did not send a single shot at goalkeeper Marek Rodák.
The Slovaks recorded their second victory in qualifying and moved to third place in the group with a gain of nine points. In the remaining matches of the H-group, Croatia won 3: 0 over Russia, and the Russian footballers won 2: 0 over Malta.
Slovak football coach Stefan Tarkovic made a few changes compared to the last match against Croatia. He missed Matúš Bero for the virus and Jakub Holúbek for the injury against Cyprus. Róbert Boženík returned to the top, Petr Pekarík replaced Petr Pekarík in the position of the right defender, and Ondrej Duda also got a chance in the basic line-up.
The first match played in Cyprus ended in a goalless draw. The opening chance for the second match was worked out by Schranz, at the beginning of the 2nd minute he sent a center from the right side, but Boženík did not get to the header. The Cypriots headed the ball away from the penalty area.
At the beginning of the 6th minute, after a wrong combination between Lobot and Weiss, he got to the ball Elia, fled with it to the penalty area. Elia saw the ball on the spot, Tzioni, who was struggling to make the Škriniarom finish. The native did not have to intervene.
The Slovak game was marked by several inaccuracies in the first half
The Cypriots also made a mistake in starting the attack at the end of the 10th minute. Weiss won the ball and after his action the Slovak footballers played the first corner kick. Weiss appeared on cue near the post, and steered it past the goalie.
Three minutes passed and coach Tarkovič’s charges played the second corner kick. Hamšík centered, but Cyprus’ defenses hit again. The third corner kick of Slovakia followed, after which Hancko got to the shot from the border of the penalty area. Teh keeper Michael hid the ball in his arms.
The game of both teams was marked by a series of inaccuracies, played mainly in the middle of the field. The change took place in the 25th minute, after the Dudu shot Katelaris played with his hand in the penalty area. The referee did not whistle the penalty even after consulting the video referee.
The Slovaks began to take the initiative. In the 29th minute, Hamšík tried to open the score, after an individual action he got to a shot. Michael caught his shot twice. In the same minute, Boženík also tried to reach the end, but he was surrounded by three Cypriot footballers. Michael didn’t have to intervene this time.
Two minutes later, Coach Tarkovich’s charges attacked the wing. A quick shot by the visitors’ Weiss finished off a great shot from the left flank by Schranza.
Slovak footballers pushed the opponent to their own sixteen in the next minutes. Boženík had one of the last chances for the first half in the 38th minute. Koscelník sent a cross into the head, but the 21-year-striker headed over the goal.
The Slovaks had the very last chance before the break after Avraam’s foul on Koscelník. Hamšík played the standard situation. His center traveled all the way to Šatka, but the Slovak defender did not hit the goal from four meters. Both teams went to the locker room without a goal.
The Slovaks turned the pressure from the beginning of the half into a goal, adding the second at the end of the match
Both teams entered the second half without changes. As at the beginning of the match, the Slovaks were more active at the beginning of the second half. After two minutes, Koscelník got to the end of the head, and Weissa centered for him. The score of the match did not change.
With 50 minutes played, the Tarkovič coach decided a substitution may help turn the game around. The ball was set by Hamšík and sent a pass through the air to the penalty area of the opponent, but the Cypriot defense was as attentive as during the whole match.
Another chance was created by Slovak footballers in the 54th minute. Duda sent a pass through the ground to the running Boženík, but the 21-year-old did not reach the ball. A few seconds later, Hancko sent the center into the opponent’s 16th and Schranz overcame the goalkeeper Michael.
The author of the goal could have scored the second goal. At the beginning of the 62nd minute, Schranz got to the ball at the border of the penalty area and shot. The ball narrowly missed the right post from the point of view of the goalkeeper. 60 seconds passed and Joterka fouled Soteria, the Slovaks had a standard situation. In the end, Škriniar got on, but he did not place the ball in the goal.
Goalkeeper Michael had another job in the 69th minute. Duda ran with the ball on the right side to the penalty area. He then looked for the running Jirka. The Cypriot defense was able to kick the ball only at the free Boženík, who did not process the ball perfectly. Michael stopped the subsequent shot. The referee canceled the whole event for offside.
Two minutes passed and the Slovaks attacked again. Hancko wanted to use a not very well-built Cypriot defense, but his pass did not find an addressee. The referee attacked Avraam, but the referee did not whistle the penalty. Finally, Schranz ran into it and sent a shot at the goal, Michael kicked the ball from the line.
Coach Tarkovich’s charges continued offensive football. After 78 minutes, Hamšík sent a free kick in high over the penalty box. The defense of Cyprus sent the ball only to the foot of Koscelník, who shot the goalkeeper Michael from the border 20 meters. He scored his first goal in the national jersey.
The final minutes of both teams were just finishing. The ball landed at the feet of Koscelník, who was completely unmarked in the box. The Cypriot football player ran to Rodák’s goalkeeper, but the Slovak defender ran into the route and kicked the ball away.
“I am glad that we managed to win, because we need points. The instructions were to play across the lines, to walk into the penalty area and push ourselves to the finish. In the first half we tried to combine more in the sixteenth. It was a tough match, I personally didn’t play the best, I didn’t feel great. But even such matches must take place. I think I could have done better, but the team played well. We still have a chance to advance. Points will be difficult to gain, but we can fight for second place. We created a lot of chances in all matches, I’m glad for that, “said Ondrej Duda after the match.
“A big stone fell from our hearts. The first goal is usually decisive. We knew that we were waiting for the conquest of a quality Cypriot defense. In the end, we are happy to take three points. I got a fantastic ball from Hanck, I had it easy then. I’m used to spin from the club, it’s nothing new for me. Hard to say, we have two more matches ahead of us. The spectators made an excellent backdrop, I want to thank them for their support, “said Ivan Schranz, the author of the first goal.
“We had a corner, I was the last player, the ball bounced towards me and I didn’t want to invent anything. I fired and it fell there. It’s one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever scored. It was a very difficult match because they defended well. We had a hard time getting chances, and when we got into them, we couldn’t turn them. We said in the locker room that we had to keep up the pressure, in the end it paid off. I see my place where the coach puts me. I’m happy for every start, every minute. I don’t care what position I take on, “said Martin Koscelník, author of the second goal.
“I want to thank the fans who found their way to this stadium. They could be felt again. Maybe the performance was not as good as against Croatia, but it was how the opponent played. We expected a tough match, in the end it was like that. Their defense is very difficult to overcome. It was also felt that it was the third match in such a short sequence. I’m glad that in the second half we ran, we managed to create a lot of chances and we confirmed the role of favorites. The first goal opened the match, we wanted to give it earlier. We could have won with a bigger difference. I am glad that the defenders are also pushing for themselves. I am most sorry for Stan Lobotka, he was in excellent shape. He has a muscle problem, it can put him out for a long time. I believe that both Lobotka and Weiss will recover quickly and be healthy, “said coach Štefan Tarkovič.
“The match was very difficult. We knew they would play a deep block with five defenders. We didn’t manage to break them in the first half, but we did in the second half. It is a great honor for me to play for Slovakia and next to Mina. He is among the top five trackers in the world, in my opinion. I think that our cooperation is working very well so far, “concluded the defender of the match, defender Ľubomír Šatka.
Qualification for MS 2022 – H-group:
Slovakia – Cyprus 2: 0 (0: 0)
Goals: 55. Schranz, 78. Koscelník, ŽK: Hancko – Avraam, Soteriou. They decided: Aghajev – Zejnalov, Amirali (all Azer.), 6762 spectators.
Slovakia: Native – Koscelník, Šatka, Škriniar, Hancko – Lobotka (53. Hrošovský), Hamšík – Schranz (79. Suslov), Duda, Weiss (58. Jirka) – Boženík (79. Strelec)
Cyprus: Michael – Katelaris, Soteriou, Ioannou – Psaltis (75. Zachariou), Kastanos (75. Kyriakou), Artymatas, Avraam (89. Rousias) – Tzioni, Ilia (60. Papoulis), Loizou (75. Pittas)