Russia coach Dick Advocaat praised Andrey Arshavin after the Arsenal midfielder inspired his country to a convincing victory over the Czech Republic at Euro 2012.
Arshavin, who is on loan at Zenit St Petersburg, produced two assists in the 4-1 win in Wroclaw.
"He worked very hard and played very well," said Advocaat, after his side went top of Group A.
"He is a very important player for us. I am very positive about him."
Alan Dzagoev scored twice, with Roman Shirokov and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko also scoring, as the Czechs were well beaten.
Arshavin, 31, provided the pass which allowed Shirokov to make it 2-0 before teeing up former Tottenham striker Pavlyuchenko for Russia's fourth goal.
With Group A rivals Poland and Greece drawing 1-1, Russia have a two-point cushion at the top of the group.
Advocaat's side face Poland next on 12 June before meeting Greece four days later.
Yet the former Rangers manager refused to get too carried away despite his team's convincing performance and was critical of Russia for not winning by more.
"We are quite happy, we scored four goals and in any international game that is a very good result," added the 64-year-old.
"We could have scored more goals, in fact we should have scored more as we had a lot of chances.
"At 2-1 we made it very difficult for ourselves so we have to get better at that because maybe a better team would have scored more against us.
"It could have been 2-2, there were moments where we need to be sharper, at certain points they had a lot of space and were very dangerous.
"But this was our first game and we are really happy with the result."
Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek faces a tough task lifting his deflated players before they face Greece on 12 June.
"We had problems with the combinations in Russia's midfield and that is how they had so many chances," said Bilek.
"We are very disappointed but now we have to show our strength and our team spirit.
"We are still able to win and the players have a chance to perform in the following two matches so we are going to look forward now."
Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech said his team had got carried away.
"There were too many of our players up front and that opened up gaps," said the Chelsea player.