Slovakia’s 2-1 defeat of Russia on Wednesday propelled Ján Kozák’s side to the top of Group B.
The victory reignites their chances of progressing following their loss to Wales in their opening game. A point against England in their final game should be sufficient to progress to the round of 16.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead before half-time, Slovakia were under pressure for much of the game. Over 90 minutes, the Slovaks were forced to clear their lines 33 times to Russia’s 5. Similarly, Slovakian goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik was forced into action six times more than his Russian counterpart, Igor Akinfeev.
Despite the defensive difficulties, in the 32nd minute Marek Hamsik’s long ball found Vladimír Weiss. The 26-year-old former Manchester City player cut back in and curled the ball into the Russian net to put his side 1-0 up. Their lead was doubled just before half-time.
Weiss was again involved as he took advantage of a lapse in Russian concentration, playing a short corner to Marek Hamsik who curled the ball passed Igor Akinfeev. Slovakia managed to withstand the Russian onslaught in the second half and clung on to win 2-1. Their final group game will take place in Saint-Étienne on Monday against England.
Goalscorer Weiss is a third generation professional footballer. His father, also named Vladimír, earned 12 caps for the national team and managed Slovakia between 2008 and 2010 and currently manages the Georgian national team. Weiss’s grandfather, again named Vladimír, earned 3 caps for Czechoslovakia in the 1960s.
The 26 year old Weiss signed for Manchester City in 2009 yet was unable to establish himself, making just one league appearance. Before leaving City in 2011, Weiss went out on loan to Bolton Wanderers and Glasgow Rangers.
Following a year long spell with Olympiacos, he eventually made the move to Lekhwiya SC in Qatar. Weiss currently plays for another Qatari side, Al-Gharafa. Among the notable former players for Al-Gharafa is French World Cup and Euro 2000 winner, Marcel Desailly.
In the process of putting his team 1-0 up on Wednesday afternoon, Vladimír Weiss also made history.
Vladimír Weiss is the first player in history to score at the Euros while playing his club football outside Europe. pic.twitter.com/TjDJ8gwu3t
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 15, 2016
Amazingly, Weiss is the first non-European based player to score at the European Championships.
Considering the rise of Major League Soccer in North America, it is surprising that a player based in Qatar has claimed the accolade. The Republic of Ireland and LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane has scored the most qualifying goals of any player with 23 since 1998.
Despite his prowess in qualifying and three World Cup goals to his name, Keane has never scored at a European Championships. Considering the injury to Ireland’s Jonathan Walters, Keane could be in contention to make an appearance when they take on Belgium on Saturday.
Looking to prevent Keane from claiming his debut goal at the tournament will be Montreal and Belgium defender Laurent Ciman. Weiss can now boast more European Championship goals than both Keane and Gary Lineker, who also failed to score at the tournament.