Gerard Grimes reports from Whitehall Stadium
Iceland came away from Home Farm with a 3-2 win to kick off their under-17 European Championship campaign despite an Ilya Golyatov-inspired fightback by Russian.
An own goal from Andrei Savinov and goals from Joon Gisl Eyland Gislason and Andri Lucas Gudjohsen had Iceland 3-0 up in little over half an hour, but the Russians made a game of it in the second half.
It was a fairly even start to this Group C encounter as Russia looked to threaten early on as Gubzhokov and Shapovalov linked up before the latter flashed a strike across the face of goal.
Iceland had an even better chance just four minutes later as Johannsson beat his man and cut the ball back to Gudjohnsen but his effort from 10 yards was hit straight at Alekseev in the Russian goal.
Kirill Schetinin was always threatening on the left for Russia in the first half and with 15 minutes played, he cut inside his man, broke forward and played in Shapovalov but the forward failed to hit the target.
The floodgates then began to open as Icelan took the lead three minutes later.
Andri Fannar Baldursson’s set piece deliveries were superb throughout and on this occasion a corner from the left resulted in the opener as Russia’s Savinov headed into his own net.
Iceland doubled their lead ten minutes later, to the delight of a very vocal travelling support, and it was again following a Baldursson set piece.
The midfielder this time delivered a free kick into the box, Jon Gisli Eyland Gislason got the final touch and, despite Alekseev seemingly getting a hand to it as he dived to his right, the ball ended up in the bottom corner.
It got worse for Russia just four minutes later as right-back Danlil Denisov stuck out his leg and fouled Gudjohnsen in the box, and Norwegian referee Espen Eskas immediately pointed to the spot.
Gudjohnsen stepped up and, despite Alekseev getting his feet to the ball, it hit the roof of the net to give Iceland a 3-0 lead.
Islam-Bek Gubzhokov was at the centre of a number of chances following the break as Russia looked for a way back into the game.
He came closest with the first, and perhaps most audacious attempt of his three chances in five minutes.
A ball was played in towards the penalty spot from the right behind Gubzhokov and the midfielder connected with an overhead kick but saw hit his attempt straight at goalkeeper Helgason.
He had two more attempts shortly after, one from distance and one from a tight angle after breaking into the box but both failed to hit the target.
Russia made a double substitution on 63 minutes, introducing Golyatov and Tigran Avanesyan in place of their front two pairing of Savinov and Shapovalov.
This had an instant impact as less than a minute later, Golyatov had the ball in the back of the net.
Right-back Vadim Konyukhov delivered a low drilled ball towards the near post for a sliding Golyatov to get the all-important touch to knock it past Helgason and in.
Iceland were still dangerous on the counter, as evidenced by Porkelsson beating his man on the left and, similar to the Russian goal, playing a ball to the near post where Djuric saw his effort blocked.
Russia were well and truly back in the game with eleven minutes of normal time to play as Melnikov delivered a corner from the right.
Vorobyev got the touch to lay it into the path of Golyatov who volleyed into the bottom corner for his, and Russia’s second of the game.
It was Iceland who would have the best chance to add to their tally before the final whistle when Gudjohnsen took the ball past the last defender and had just the keeper to beat.
However, the outrushing Alekseev done brilliant, sliding out to win the ball with his feet and keep the scoreline at 3-2.
Russia pushed for the equaliser late on but it was Iceland who hung on for a 3-2 victory to kick off their U17 European Championship campaign with a win.
Iceland: Olafur Kristofer Helgason; Valgeir Valgeirsson, Jon Gisli Eyland Gislason, Oliver Stefansson (C), Robert Orri Porkelsson; Orri Hrafn Kjartansson, Andri Fannar Baldursson (Hakon Arnar Haraldsson 80), Isak Bergmann Johannesson; David Snaer Johannsson (Baldur Hannes Stefansson 80), Andri Gudjohnsen, Mikael Egill Ellertsson (Danijel Dejan Djuric 52).
Subs not used: Adam Ingi Benediktsson (gk), Helgi Bergmann Hermannsson (GK), Vilhjalmu Yngvi Hjalmarsson, Elmar Por Jonsson, Kristall Mani Ingason, Olafur, Gudmundsson.
Russia: Aleksandr Alekseev (C); Danlil Denisov, Aleksandr Mukhin, Nikita Kotin, Vadim Konyukhov; Islam-Bek Gubzhokov (Aslan Mutaliev 70), Igor Vorobyev, Dmitri Kratkov (Danlil Shamkin HT), Kirill Schetinin (Stepan Melnikov 46); Andrei Savinov (Tigran Avanesyan 63), Egor Shapovalov (Ilya Golyatov 63).
Subs not used: Ilya Kuptsov (gk), Lev Ushakin, Bogdan Logachev, Ivan Shmakov.
Referee: Espen Eskas (Norway).
Attendance: 665 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Andri Fannar Baldursson (Iceland).