Soccer-Finns blame 'energy loss' of disallowed goal after Russia defeat

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group B - Finland v Russia - Saint Petersburg Arena, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 16, 2021 Russia's Roman Zobnin in action with Finland's Paulus Arajuuri Pool via REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Finland were left to rue an early goal chalked off for a marginal offside decision as they fell to a 1-0 defeat by Russia in their Euro 2020 Group B clash on Wednesday.

Joel Pohjanpalo, who scored the winner against Denmark on Saturday, had the ball in the net in the fifth minute, but his wild celebrations were cut short by VAR as he was revealed to be slightly offside.

"I don't know how far Joel was offside, but it was so close. It's all about fine margins, and today they didn't go our way," Finland captain Paulus Arajuuri said.

"It gives you a huge energy boost when you score. And when it's ruled out, it takes a lot of energy out of you, too," he added.

The Finns were undone by a goal in first-half stoppage time by Aleksei Miranchuk, and though they battled hard throughout the second half they could not find an equaliser.

"Unfortunately the efficiency today with the goal-scoring chances wasn't on a high level, and the Russian defenders were able to block our shots," Finland coach Markku Kanerva told reporters.

"Overall the offensive game was OK, in the second half we had many more opportunities to control the ball for long periods, but this is not a game of statistics -- it's all about having the skill to score and to defend against chances."

Finland will now face Belgium, their toughest Group B opponents, in their final game, and depending on other results they may well need a draw or a win if they are to have any hope of making it through to the knockout stage.

"Belgium is one of the strongest teams in the tournament so it's a massive challenge for us. This team has shown before that they are able to play above their level and make their dreams come true," Kanerva said.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, additional reporting by Milla Nissi; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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