Wales 1-3 Russia: Andrey Arshavin inspires crucial victory  

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wales made Russia fight all the way for a World Cup victory that keeps them hot on the heels of Germany in the race for top spot in qualifying Group Four.

The Welsh youngsters produced a spirited display and were more than a match for the Euro 2008 semi-finalists, who took the lead after 36 minutes when the excellent Andrey Arshavin created a fine goal for Igor Semshov, despite some impressive early play from the hosts.

Wales forced their way back into the game when defender James Collins scored on the near post from Aaron Ramsey's corner, before Sergei Ignashevich belted home a free-kick with 18 minutes left and Roman Pavlyuchenko added a third in the closing seconds.

Russia sent on Tottenham striker Roman 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 Sergei 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 crossbar.

Russia sent on Alexei Rebko for Kerzhakov with seven minutes left, with Wales still battling away for an equaliser.

A last-minute strike from Pavlyuchenko gave Russia a far more flattering scoreline than the match deserved. Wales - who long ago had conceded any realistic chance of qualifying for the finals - now know that it is mathematically impossible.


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