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Slovakia must take positives into final pool game

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DUESSELDORF, Germany : Slovakia paid for the price for taking their foot off the gas in the second half of their 2-1 European Championship defeat by Ukraine on Friday but can take positives from a strong first- half display into their final Group E fixture against Romania.

Slovakia stayed in contention for a place in the last 16 in what is proving to be a tight pool, but will likely need at the bare minimum a point against the Romanians to advance.

Coach Francesco Calzona’s side led after 17 minutes in Duesseldorf thanks to Ivan Schranz’s second goal in as many games, but handed the initiative back to the Ukrainians, according to captain Milan Skriniar.

“I think it’s a big shame,” he told reporters. “We weren’t active in the second half like we spoke about in the dressing room. We said we had to put the opponent under pressure and control the game, but it wasn’t there at all.

“It’s a shame to miss such a chance (to win), but we have to keep our heads up. We have to talk about the things that weren’t good and improve.”

Schranz agreed it was a missed opportunity but said they must put this defeat behind them.

“We left more space for the Ukrainians (in the second half) to make their quick counters,” he said. “It is a shame, but it is behind us, we showed good moments and we are going into the third match to advance (to the last-16).”

Slovakia defender Adam Obert believes the equaliser for Ukraine dramatically turned the momentum in their favour.

“It got them fired up and then it was difficult to get back into the game. The coach told us to be compact and not to pass penetrating passes through us, but that is what happened for the second goal,” he said.

Romania top the pool with three points from one game and play Belgium, who lost their opening game to Slovakia, later on Saturday.

Slovakia and Ukraine have three points each, but have played two matches.

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