Russia's highly-rated Alan Dzagoev further enhanced his growing reputation with his third goal of Euro 2012 in the 1-1 draw with Poland and is now a strong candidate to earn the tournament's Golden Boot award. Rob Parrish looks back at another key contribution from the youngster.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp
Last Updated: 12/06/12 10:48pm
Russia's exciting young talent Alan Dzagoev was guaranteed to be under the spotlight following his brace in the opening day win over Czech Republic, and he proved that was no flash in the pan as he found the net again in the 1-1 draw with Poland in Warsaw's National Stadium.
Dzagoev demonstrated his predatory instincts in the 37th minute as he took advantage of some highly questionable Poland defending to divert Andrey Arshavin's delightful in-swinging free-kick beyond goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton, and while the final contact may have been more shoulder than head, it mattered little.
Starting his run on the edge of the 'D' outside the 18-yard box, the 21-year-old CSKA Moscow man was already comfortably in front of his marker as he raced into the staggering amount of space between the two Poland centre-backs to make contact with Arshavin's kick just outside the edge of the six-yard box, with any touch good enough to divert the ball into the back of the net.
He may have previously been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, but the right-sided attacker, who operated as part of a three-pronged forward line, has stated in the past that were he to move on from his homeland, then Spain or Italy would be his preference. It would be the Premier League's loss.
Reputed to be worth €16million (£13m) prior to this summer's tournament, Dzagoev will have made his value soar with his two displays to date demonstrating his ability on the ball, incisive passing and an all-round threat which makes him a nightmare to defend against. CSKA Moscow can expect a number of suitors to be in touch this summer, but may be able to name their price if they choose to sell.
Against opponents who posed a much greater challenge than the Czechs, Dzagoev did not have as many opportunities to shine, but all three of his attempts on goal were on target. A lesson which team-mate Aleksandr Kerzhakov could do well to heed after another profligate display which suggests the word 'composure' is lacking from his vocabulary.
Kerzhakov failed to take advantage of Dzagoev's first moment of note, when his defence-splitting pass in the opening exchanges looked set to pick out the centre-forward, but he tumbled to the turf under a fine challenge from Damien Perquis with his lame penalty appeals waved away.
Dzagoev could, and probably should, have been awarded a spot-kick of his own shortly after opening the scoring when, with half-time approaching, he was bundled to the floor by a crude shove in the back from a Poland defender only to see the free-kick awarded against him by referee Wolfgang Stark, much to his bemusement.
He showed a darker side to his game, and perhaps a measure of immaturity, late in the second half when, having again been denied a free-kick by Stark after a heavy challenge from behind, he chased the official for several seconds, berating the German for his decision and rightfully receiving a caution for dissent.
Manager Dick Advocaat withdrew his young charge soon after for the final 11 minutes of the contest, doubtless with the final Group A fixture against Greece in mind when a point will be enough to secure progress to the quarter-finals. There is surely more to come from Dzagoev, both in that contest and into the latter stages of the tournament.