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Russia secure easy victory

Russia beat Macedonia 3-0 in a Euro 2008 Group E qualifier on Saturday to stay on track for next year's finals.

Russia celebrate the opener

Russia celebrate the opener / YuriKadobnov (GettyImages)

For that the Russians had to thank their reserve goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, who saved a 70th-minute penalty from Igor Mitreski to preserve a 1-0 lead just after replacing Vladimir Gabulov.

Gabulov was sent off in the 69th minute for a professional foul on Velice Sumulikoski in his own penalty box.

Vasily Berezutsky put the home side ahead five minutes into the game, slotting the ball in at the far post following Andrei Arshavin's free kick.

Russia could easily have doubled their lead before the break but Vladimir Bystrov missed an open goal from a tight angle in the 21st minute and Macedonia keeper Petar Milosevski made a fine diving save to deny Dmitry Sychev a few minutes later.

Sychev wasted another golden chance early in the second half, shooting wide from five metres and Roman Pavlyuchenko hit tha post before Malafeyev's heroics.

Russia captain Andrei Arshavin made it 2-0 with a great solo effort in the 83rd minute and Sevilla striker Alexander Kerzhakov, a second-half substitute, made sure of the win three minutes later.

Victory moved Russia top of the group with 18 points from eight matches, a point ahead of England, who beat Israel 3-0, and Croatia, who were playing Estonia in a later match on Saturday.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink said he was pleased with the outcome but added his side were a bit lucky to escape unharmed.

'There's an unwritten law in football that says if you don't make the score 2-0 or 3-0 before halftime, you're going to have problems,' the Dutchman told a news conference.

'And we were almost punished with that penalty kick. Fortunately, Malafeyev saved the game for us.'

Russia 3 - 0 Macedonia
European Championship Qualifying: Group E
Stadium: Lokomotiv
Attendance: 26,000
Referee: Tom Henning Ovrebo
Vasili Berezutsky (8)
Andrei Arshavin (84)
Alexander Kerzhakov (88)
Igor Mitreski (pen miss 72)

Russia Macedonia
30 Vladimir Gabulov (G) (G) Petar Milosevski 1
27 Alexei Berezutsky (D) (D) Vlade Lazarevski 14
2 Vasili Berezutsky (D) (D) Igor Mitreski 5
5 Sergei Ignashevich (D) (D) Goran Popov 3
15 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (M) (D) Goce Sedloski 4
23 Vladimir Bystrov (M) (M) Aleksander Mitreski 6
20 Igor Semshov (M) (M) Velice Sumulikoski 8
17 Konstatin Zurianov (M) (M) Darko Tasevski 10
10 Andrei Arshavin (S) (M) Aleksander Vasovski 15
19 Roman Pavluchenko (S) (S) Goran Pandev 19
26 Dmitri Sychev (S) (S) Aco Stojkov 20
16 Viacheslav Malafeev (G) (G) Jordan Georgievski 12
22 Aleksandr Aniukov (D) (D) Nikolce Noveski 2
25 Denis Kolodin (D) (M) Vlatko Grozdanovski 7
7 Dmitri Torbinsky (D) (M) Artim Polozani 13
18 Yuri Zhirkov (M) (M) Vanco Trajanov 17
11 Alexander Kerzhakov (S) (S) Goran Maznov 9
13 Pavel Pogrebniak (S) (S) Goce Toleski 18
A Kerzhakov for R Pavluchenko (66)
G Maznov for A Stojkov (46)
V Malafeev for D Sychev (70)
V Trajanov for A Mitreski (46)
A Aniukov for V Bystrov (89)
G Toleski for A Vasovski (88)
Yellow Cards
  Goran Pandev (46)
  Goran Popov (82)
Red Cards
Vladimir Gabulov (70)  

ESPNsoccernet, Sep. 8, 2007

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