Football: Russia lose vital Euro qualifier against England

Russia's chances of qualifying for the European Championships next year have been dealt a blow after they were beaten 3-0 by England in London. The defeat leaves Guus Hiddink's men in third spot in Group E behind Croatia and England, with three games sti

Veteran striker Michael Owen scored two first-half goals to spearhead England's win at the newly-built Wembley Stadium.  Man United defender Rio Ferdinand secured the points with a third goal late in the second half.
 
The outcome could have been very different if Russia had not had a goal ruled out in the first half because of handball.
 
Russia and England appear to be vying for Group E's remaining qualifying spot.  
 
Group leaders Croatia look like qualifying after they trashed whipping boys Andorra 6-0 in Zagreb.  
 
Croatia top the table with 23 points.  England overtake Russia in second place with 20 points.  Russia move to third place on 18 points.

Meanwhile, England came out on top in a charity match staged before the main game.  It was played by celebrities from both countries. The score was 6-5 to the English.  All the money raised goes to children suffering from leukemia.

Former Russia player, Aleksey Smertin coached the celebrity side. “Above all things it’s charity. It unites people. After the games we’re all hanging out and taking pictures. We even exchange shirts. In warm-up matches the result doesn’t matter”.

Another famous player, Andrey Kanchelskis, who’s been living in the UK for over a decade, was playing for the English side. The retired Soviet and Russian midfielder believes that politics and sport do not mix. “Politicians are a little bit strange, you know. And you see, here today the atmosphere is good, people are nice,” he noted.