ST PETERSBURG - Roman Pavlyuchenko struck
a hat-trick to give Russia a 3-1 comeback win over Armenia on
Saturday, keeping them in the hunt for a Euro 2012 qualifying
place from a tight Group B.
Russia, who went into the game level on points with Ireland
and Slovakia, fell behind when Brazilian-born Marcos Pizzelli
scored against the run of play in the 25th minute.
Pizzelli, who received Armenian citizenship in 2008, caught
the Russian defence asleep and slid the ball into an open goal
after going one-on-one with keeper Igor Akinfeyev.
Russia, held 0-0 by Armenia in Yerevan in March, equalised
almost immediately with Pavlyuchenko's well taken volley.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker, who last month publicly
criticised Russia coach Dick Advocaat for often selecting his
favourite players, made it 2-1 just before the hour after a
quick passing exchange between captain Andriy Arshavin and Igor
Semshov on the left wing.
Pavlyuchenko, who was included in the starting line-up on
Saturday after leading scorer Alexander Kerzhakov suffered a
knee injury, sealed the points with a 73rd-minute penalty after
Yuri Zhirkov was fouled by Sargis Hovsepyan.
"I think the last time I scored three goals in a match was
when I played for Spartak," said Pavlyuchenko, who moved to
England from Spartak Moscow in August 2008 and now has 19 goals
in 40 international matches.
"Armenia is a good team but we were not expecting to fall
behind. Luckily, we were able to recover quickly."
Advocaat was not totally satisfied though.
"Of course, I'm quite happy with the outcome but not how we
had played," the Dutchman told a news conference.
"We had no margin for error in this match as we could not
afford to lose any points. This made us look nervous."
The win lifted Russia up on to 13 points from six matches,
with Slovakia hosting Andorra and Ireland playing away to
Macedonia in later games. Armenia remain fourth on eight points.
Spurs miss out on Champions League again despite highest Premier League points tally
Champions closer to matching Real Madrid's La Liga record of 100 points with 2-1 win
AC Milan score twice in last six minutes to beat relegated Siena 2-1 to finish third
Carlo Ancelotti informs PSG officials that he wants to leave at the end of the season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010