Three-goal Dzagoev sets Index standard
Saturday, 16 June 2012 04:16

Coming into the tournament having just recovered from a broken toe, Alan Dzagoev has hit the ground running at UEFA EURO 2012 as part of a vibrant Russia team who have caught the eye with their slick attacking play.

The PFC CSKA Moskva playmaker has emerged as a key component in Dick Advocaat's three-pronged strike force, topping the Castrol EDGE Index in each of his outings so far and heading the standings with an overall score of 9.66 after the second round of group matches.

Dzagoev, 21, is one of three players at the finals to have scored a tournament-leading three goals. Of the top ten in the Index, only Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio and Spain's Andrés Iniesta have yet to get off the mark. The impressive Dzagoev has shown a clinical edge to his game which was seldom evident in the Russian Premier-Liga this season − in 31 appearances he found the net only five times.

UEFA EURO 2012 has been a different story, though. Dzagoev has had six efforts on goal – five of which found the target, including a header which opened the scoring in Russia's 1-1 draw with Poland − and is narrowly ahead of Ukraine talisman Andriy Shevchenko (9.58), whose 9.7 in the co-hosts' opener against Sweden is the highest single rating of the competition so far.

The FC Dynamo Kyiv player's double in that encounter on his club ground turned the game around after Zlatan Ibrahimović (9.51) had nudged the Blågult ahead. The Sweden captain has allied his silky touches and sound appreciation of space with an end product. In the 3-2 defeat by England, which resulted in his side's elimination, he pressed Joe Hart into service four times, one less than the tournament high for an individual fixture.

Completing the top five are playmaker David Silva (9.45) and Marchisio (9.39). The former was the conductor of a Spain orchestra which hit all the right notes in the holders' second Group C match, the 4-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland, setting up two goals and scoring one himself. That followed a cute pass for Cesc Fàbregas to level against Italy four days earlier, meaning he is joint top of the assist chart with three alongside Andrey Arshavin.

Like Dzagoev, Italy's Marchisio finished at the summit of the Index in both of his games. While he excelled in the aforementioned draw with La Roja for his blocking and recovery of possession, the Juventus man gained credit for shooting against Croatia – namely four strikes at goal, more than anyone on the field – not to mention covering an exhausting 12.01km of the Municipal Stadium Poznan pitch.

Gomez, in sixth, has banished the memories of a disappointing UEFA European Championship four years ago, when he had five shots without scoring as Germany reached the final. In 180 minutes of action in Poland and Ukraine, the FC Bayern München forward has registered three times.

Key facts so far
3 – Number of assists provided by David Silva and Andrey Arshavin, a tournament high.

6 – Goals that Nicklas Bendtner has scored against Portugal in five outings following his double in the teams' Group B match.

7 – Alan Dzagoev has scored all of his seven international goals since the start of qualifying for this tournament.

29 – Attempts on target by Spain, more than any other team, all but five of which were against the Republic of Ireland.

133 – Passes attempted by Xavi Hernández in the holders' 4-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland, an all-time competition record.

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