Russia beats Armenia 3-1 in Euro 2012 qualifier

Roman Pavlyuchenko scored a hat trick Saturday as Russia came

from behind to beat Armenia 3-1 in their qualifier for the 2012

European Championship.

Markos Pizzelli opened the scoring for Armenia with a solo

effort in the 25th minute, beating Igor Akinfeev with a low shot

from 12 yards.

But Pavlyuchenko equalized a minute later by volleying in

Aleksandr Anyukov’s high cross from the right. The Tottenham

striker beat Armenia’s offside trap and put Russia ahead in the

59th before converting a penalty after Yuri Zhirkov was brought

down.

Russia has 13 points from six games in Group B. Armenia is five

points behind.

Other Group B contenders Ireland and Slovakia, tied for second

with 10 points from five games, were scheduled to play late

Saturday against Macedonia and last-place Andorra respectively.

Russia opened strongly, with Dmitri Toprbinskiy missing a chance

in front of goal and Pavlyuchenko forcing Roman Berezovsky into his

first save with a shot from close range.

Armenia, which held Russia to a 0-0 draw in Yerevan in March,

produced its first attack after 10 minutes but Gevorg Ghazaryan

fired wide from the edge of the box.

After Pizzelli put the visitor ahead, Pavlyuchenko equalized

with his first goal in qualifying for Euro 2012.

The move for Russia’s second goal was started by Andrei

Arshavin, playing at the Petrovskiy stadium – home to his former

club Zenit St. Petersburg – for the first time since moving to

Arsenal in March 2009.

Arshavin’s pass to Zhirkov was redirected to Igor Semshov, who

sent the ball into the box for Pavlyuchenko. The striker beat

Armenia’s offside trap and converted, before wrapping up the

victory from the spot in the 73rd minute.

Armenia had a strike by Edgar Manucharyan disallowed for offside

in the 86th.

”We are really satisfied with the result,” Russia coach Dick

Advocaat said. ”It was a must-win for us today. We were nervous

and had problems in the (midfield). We have won, but we must

improve our game.”

Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan said: ”Pavlyuchenko scored both

his goals when he was left unmarked in the box. It was our

mistake.”

Russia next hosts Macedonia on Sept. 2, while Armenia will be at

Andorra.

Lineups:

Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Vasily Berezutsky, Alexander Anyukov

(Renat Yanbaev, 75), Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov, Igor Semshov

(Denis Glushakov, 69), Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov (Alan

Dzagoev, 82), Roman Pavlyuchenko, Andrei Arshavin, Dmitri

Toprbinskiy.

Armenia: Roman Berezovsky, Levon Hayrapetyan, Sargis Hovsepyan,

Robert Arzumanyan, Karlen Mkrtchyan (Artak Edigaryan, 89), Marcos

Pizzelli (Artur Edigaryan, 67), Gevorg Ghazaryan, Yura Movsisyan,

Hrayr Mkoyan, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Levon Pachajyan (Edgar

Manucharyan, 57).