Russia's Roman Zobnin delivers man-of-the-match showing that lifts hosts past Egypt
Russia have all but qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in their history after producing an impressive 3-1 victory over Egypt, leaving the Pharaohs just theoretical chances to stay in the tournament after the group stage.
It was a brilliant all-around performance by the Russian team. It looked like a united unit, with players leaving their all on the pitch. Russia never stopped pressing even after going three up. That was something Egypt, who had no shots on goal (bar the penalty), just couldn't handle.
They were simply not seen. Russia's back line could potentially suffer from quick Egyptian attacking players and Mohamed Salah's genius, but the way the hosts set up their defence and the constant pressure they offered left the Pharaohs almost no chance to perform up front.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Stanislav Cherchesov made an expected replacement, preferring Artem Dzyuba to Fedor Smolov in attack. The Zenit St. Petersburg forward scored once and played his part in Ahmed Fathi's own goal. Overall, the Russian team were set up ideally against this Egyptian side, reducing their chances to play to their strengths.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Igor Akinfeev, 6 -- Once again, didn't have much to do. The penalty from Salah was the only shot on his goal in 90 minutes. He can't be blamed for not saving it, can he?
DF Mario Fernandes, 6 -- Another professional performance by the Brazilian. Made no mistakes in defence, constantly supported attacks, registered an assist on Denis Cheryshev's goal.
DF Sergey Ignashevich, 7 -- The 38-year-old never looked troubled by far quicker opponents. His ability to read the game was superb, his commanding from the back was what was needed by this team.
DF Ilya Kutepov, 6 -- The most injury-prone defender on the team was happy to not suffer any damage, though in one episode, the Spartak Moscow man was lucky to escape a penalty decision after bringing down Marwan Mohsen, but the referee didn't even ask VAR for help.
DF Yury Zhirkov, 7 -- Kept Salah quiet reading the game well and precisely predicting the Egyptian's next move. Offered nothing in attack, but that wasn't the main task for the 34-year-old defender on the night.
MF Denis Cheryshev, 7 -- Looked bright on his left wing, scored another goal, making it three at the tournament, was good at pressing.
MF Roman Zobnin, 7 -- Man of the match for me. The unsung hero of any team he plays for. Zobnin is an engine of this team, being equally good in defence and supporting attacks. Made five tackles and four interceptions and won 10 of 14 duels on the night. Giving up a penalty when pulling Salah down was the only negative of his game.
MF Aleksandr Samedov, 6 -- His main task for the night was sending crosses to Dzyuba. Part of his defensive duties were generously taken by Fernandes.
MF Yuri Gazinskiy, 6 -- Was good at putting pressure at the opponents but looked a bit clumsy a few times when defending.
MF Aleksandr Golovin, 7 -- Another great match by the 22-year-old starlet. Won most of his duels and nearly all second balls, was effective when supporting attacks, played an essential role in team pressing.
FW Artem Dzyuba, 7 -- Did what was needed from a centre-forward. Put constant pressure on defenders, held on to the balls sent to him, scored a goal and "helped" Fathi score an own goal.
MF Daler Kuzyaev, 6 -- Was sent on to cool everything down in midfield after conceding from Salah. Did OK.
MF Fedor Smolov, 6 -- Was under pressure after the past few poor games but did nothing to be blamed for this time around.
FW Fedor Kudryashov, N/R -- Replaced Zhirkov, who complained about his ankle. Didn't have time to do much.
Artur Petrosyan is a Russian journalist based in Moscow. Twitter: @arturpetrosyan