Pogrebniak scores double for Russia

Pogrebniak scores double for Russia

Andorra 0 Russia 2

Russia were indebted to Pavel Pogrebniak as the striker’s double got their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign off to a winning start in Andorra.

A strong start saw the eastern Europeans take a 14th-minute lead with a well-worked goal.

However, Andorra succeeded in roughing their opponents up at the Estadi Comunal and it was not until the 64th minute that Russia secured some breathing space through Pogrebniak’s penalty.

Russia started brightly, with Andrey Arshavin in the thick of the action. In the sixth minute he tested Andorra goalkeeper Jose Antonio Gomes who made the save comfortably.

Having dispensed with their recently-favoured short passing game, the visitors were getting the ball forward directly when possible and the opening goal came promptly in the 14th minute. Konstantin Zyryanov won the ball well and fed Arshavin, the playmaker then cleverly finding Pogrebniak.

The striker beat his man before firing hard and low from the left side of the penalty area to break the early deadlock.

Arshavin had a chance five minutes later but Gomes saved well. Andorra tried to claw their way back into the game while breaking up Russia’s advances at any cost – and received three yellow cards midway through the half for cynical fouls in the middle of the pitch.

Arshavin continued to threaten, collecting Zyryanov’s pass but shooting wide.

Pogrebniak then skilfully evaded two defenders and crossed for Arshavin but again Gomes made the save.

Shortly before half-time Sergio Moreno had a chance for Andorra, from inside the area, but failed to connect cleanly with his shot and Igor Akinfeev collected easily.

The game petered out until around the hour mark, Russia dominating but failing to really threaten.

Alan Dzagoev, on as a substitute, was found by Arshavin but was denied by illegally Gomes inside the box.

Pogrebniak converted the penalty calmly to ease Russia’s nerves. Pogrebniak missed a chance for his hat-trick before Arshavin, Igor Semshov and Dzagoev all went close while Andorra were limited to long-range punts.

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