BRATISLAVA, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- An own goal by Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar on Friday put an end to Slovakia's hopes of making it to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
After the 1-0 away loss to Russia, Slovakia slipped to the fourth place in Group H of the European qualifying tournament with nine points and three games in hand.
Croatia and Russia lead the group with 16 points. The winner of each group will qualify for the World Cup finals directly and the runners-up will enter playoffs.
"It was probably the best performance under my command. The disappointment is great. We did everything well, except for scoring goals. We put Russia under pressure, dominated throughout the game but lost after a single mistake," admitted Slovakia coach Stefan Tarkovic after the game.
Despite the domination in every offensive statistics, Slovakia failed to capitalize on any of their 25 shots, 15 free kicks, 14 corner kicks, or 70% ball possession.
The only goal came from Skriniar who misjudged a fast break by Russia in the 24th minute.
"I did not see any players, I should not have gone for the tackle. It was poor communication between the goalkeeper and the defense and I also hit the ball wrong. In the ned, it was a match full of bad luck. I can't remember a game with so many scoring opportunities. We were not able to break the spell today," admitted Skriniar after the defeat.
"I am very satisfied with the result. For every victory, you have to put in the effort, it doesn't come from nothing. We have achieved our desired result today," said Russia coach Valerij Karpin.
In other Friday fixtures of Group H, Croatia hammered Cyprus 3-0 and Slovenia whitewashed Malta 4-0.
Third-placed Slovenia is trailing the group leaders by six points. Both Malta and Cyprus have scored just 4 points so far and occupy the bottom of the standings. Enditem