Leonid Slutsky insists he did not see the flare which was lit by Russian fans during their Euro 2016 defeat to Slovakia on Wednesday.
The flare was ignited shortly after Denis Glushakov headed in what proved to be a consolation goal in the 2-1 loss at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.
Prior to the match UEFA issued Russia a suspended disqualification due to the offences which marred their 1-1 draw with England in Marseille. European football’s governing body had charged the Russian Football Union (RFU) after supporters were found guilty of “crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour”.
The flare seen in the stadium on Wednesday did not constitute ‘crowd disturbance’ and therefore is unlikely to force UEFA to invoke their disqualification order, though it does contravene UEFA regulations, but Slutsky would not be drawn on discussing the issue in his post-match news conference.
“I was totally concentrated on the game, I was watching the events on the pitch,” he said. When pressed further, he replied: “I repeat, I didn’t see that.”
The match was decided by two fine strikes from Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamsik, who blasted in his side’s second after a clever short corner, and Slutsky admitted his frustration at the manner of the goal.
“The plan we had at the beginning would have been fine had we put it into execution,” he said. “We had to change our system when we lost the goal.
“Before they scored they had three corners from the right and we had no problems. Of course, we knew they had this as a possibility but we lost our concentration in first-half injury time. It’s a very big mistake.”
Russia face Wales in their final Group B game most likely needing a victory to keep their hopes of progressing to the knockouts alive, and Slutsky is already planning for the threat posed by Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in that encounter in Toulouse.
“The group situation is very complex,” he said. “Every team will have a chance to qualify, even after the second matchday. I think it will be decided at the end.
“They have two top players, and we’ll play special attention to Bale and Ramsey. But we’re talking about this kind of game as a very important game. It could maybe be Wales or Russia to qualify, so the teams will count, not just individuals.”
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