Pavlyuchenko goal adds gloss
Wales gave everything they had but Russia's greater experience took Guus
Hiddink's men closer to the World Cup finals.
The scoreline flattered the visitors at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium,
who are still neck and neck with Germany at the top of qualifying Group
Wales had plenty of impressive displays, young Aaron Ramsey, goalscorer
James Collins and Brian Stock on his debut.
But despite some well-planned play early on, Wales were behind at the
break after Andrey Arshavin created a fine goal for Igor Semshov.
Collins equalised for the Welsh soon after the break, but a free-kick
from Sergei Ignashevich and late goal from substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko
settled the issue.
Wales gave a debut to Doncaster midfielder Stock, while manager John Toshack
- on his 50th full international in charge - went for five at the back
with Danny Gabbidon playing his first game at the Millennium Stadium in
almost two years due to injury.
Russia had Arshavin in midfield after the Arsenal man had recovered from
a groin injury, and he had a constant impact on the game.
Wales, however, had started with a surprisingly fluid formation, with
Aaron Ramsey supporting Craig Bellamy up front with David Edwards making
runs from deep.
Their triangle certainly surprised the Russians, as did Collins - who
was not slow to venture forward.
Stock looked composed from the start and had the first chance after six
minutes when a poor clearance dropped for him 25 yards out - his rising
drive flashing past Igor Akinfeev's right-hand post.
Toshack had been critical in Wales' last match in Montenegro of the lack
of adventure from his full-backs. Not this time, though.
Sam Ricketts was a constant threat on the right, and his first-time cross
on the run was nodded down by Stock for Edwards, with Akinfeev scooping
the ball off the Wolves man's toes.
Edwards went close again with a diving header from another Ricketts cross,
before Arshavin's ball for Vladimir Bystrov produced a near-post shot
which Gabbidon almost turned into his own net.
Alexander Kerzhakov fired in an angled 20-yard effort which Wayne Hennessey
turned away at full stretch, before Bellamy lifted a cross into the box
for Joe Ledley to produce a header that was pulled down by Akinfeev.
But Wales found themselves behind after 36 minutes when they were cut
open by the brilliance of Arshavin. His instinctive turn and pass picked
out Semshov's run, the Dynamo Moscow man having managed to lose Stock
before firing an angled shot into the far corner.
Arshavin almost created a second four minutes later when his low cross
was lifted over the top from six yards by Kerzhakov.
There was still plenty of fight in the Welsh side, and Bellamy started
the second period with a couple of high-speed runs which caused danger
in the box.
And from one such run, Bellamy earned a corner from which Wales levelled
It came on 54 minutes with Ramsey firing the corner into the near post
for Collins to force past Akinfeev for his second goal for his country.
Alexander Anyukov was booked a minute later for a foul on Bellamy, then
Chris Gunter shot wide from 20 yards.
Akinfeev dropped a corner and Ledley set up Ramsey for a shot which flashed
wide, with Russia badly exposed.
More good work by Bellamy saw Ramsey force his way into the box for two
efforts which almost put Wales ahead, Semak eventually clearing the danger
with an overhead clearance under his own bar.
Russia sent on Tottenham striker Pavlyuchenko for Semshov after 70 minutes,
and two minutes later they regained the lead.
Kerzhakov went down for what looked a soft free-kick against Gabbidon
a yard outside the box, and Ignashevich drove the free-kick straight through
the wall and past Hennessey.
Wales immediately replaced Gabbidon with an extra striker in Sam Vokes.
But Pavlyuchenko almost made it three with a dipping drive that crashed
against Hennessey's bar.
Russia sent on Alexei Rebko for Kerzhakov with seven minutes left, with
Wales still battling away for an equaliser.
Gunter was booked for taking a free-kick too quickly in the closing minutes,
before Pavlyuchenko's last-minute strike - following poor play in defence
from the hosts - gave the scoreline a flattering look.
Wales - who long ago had conceded any realistic chance of qualifying for
the finals - now know it is mathematically impossible.
September 9, 2009
Wales - Russia - 1:3
Wales: James Collins (54)
Russia: Igor Semshov (36), Sergei Ignashevich (71), Roman Pavlyuchenko
Stadium: Millennium Stadium, Wales
Match Time: 19:45 UK
Official(s): Manuel de Sousa (Referee)
|1 Wayne Hennessey
||1 Igor Akinfeev
|5 James Collins
||4 Sergei Ignashevich
|4 Daniel Gabbidon
||5 Vasili Berezutsky
|2 Samuel Ricketts
||2 Aleksandr Aniukov
|6 Ashley Williams
||13 Renat Yanbaev
|3 Chris Gunter
||17 Konstatin Zurianov
|7 Brian Stock
||8 Igor Semshov
|10 David Edwards
||11 Sergei Semak
|11 Joe Ledley
||10 Andrei Arshavin
|9 Aaron Ramsey
||15 Vladimir Bystrov
|8 Craig Bellamy
||16 Alexander Kerzhakov
|12 Boaz Myhill
||Vladimir Gabulov 12
|15 Craig Morgan
||Alexei Berezutsky 6
|13 Neal Eardley
||Diniyar Bilyaletdinov 18
| Robert Earnshaw
||Alexei Rebko 3
|14 David Cotterill
||Alan Dzagoev 19
|17 Sam Vokes
||Roman Pavlyuchenko 9
|16 Ched Evans
||Pavel Pogrebniak 14
|Sam Vokes for Daniel Gabbidon (74)
|Roman Pavlyuchenko for Igor Semshov (70)
||Alexei Rebko for Alexander Kerzhakov (84)
|Samuel Ricketts (90)
|Aleksandr Aniukov (56)