Russia stays without World Cup

Slovakia won a spot in the playoffs for next year's World Cup at the expense of Russia on today after a 0-0 draw.

The result means Slovakia finishes second in Group 3 behind automatic qualifier Portugal. Russia was eliminated.

Slovakia has never played in a major soccer competition since it gained independence in 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia.

Russia needed a win to make its 10th World Cup finals appearance. Seven of its World Cup appearances were as the Soviet Union.

In the first half, both teams had several clear chances to score but lacked precision. In the eighth minute, Russia's Vasiliy Berezutskiy sent a header over Kamil Contofalsky's goal and three minutes later, Slovakia's Szilard Nemeth failed to convert a shot just meters (yards) away from the Russian goal.

The Russians came closest to scoring in the first half in the 16th minute, but Alexander Kerzhakov's close shot hit Contofalsky instead.

Slovakia also had a chance in the 84th through substitute Filip Holosko.

On Tuesday night, 34 Russian fans were detained after a brawl in downtown Bratislava, which left eight Russian and Slovak fans injured, three of whom have been hospitalized, reported AP.

Lineups: Slovakia: Kamil Contofalsky, Marian Had, Roman Kratochvil, Martin Skrtel, Radoslav Zabavnik, Jozef Valachovic, Peter Hlinka, Ivan Hodur (Filip Holosko, 56), Miroslav Karhan (Karol Kisel, 67), Szilard Nemeth (Jan Durica, 82), Robert Vittek.

Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Alexei Berezutskiy, Vasiliy Berezutskiy, Dmitry Sennikov, Alexei Smertin, Marat Izmailov, Alexander Anyukov (Roman Pavlyuchenko, 82), Dmitry Loskov, Andrei Arshavin, Alexander Kerzhakov (Dmitry Kirichenko, 67), Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Sergei Semak, 58). P.T.

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