Russia crush 10-man Cyprus to book spot at Euro 2020 (VIDEO)
Russia booked their place at next summer’s UEFA European Championships as they hammered Cyprus 5-0 in Nicosia thanks to a double from Denis Cheryshev and goals from Magomed Ozdoev, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin.
After they battered Scotland in Moscow during the week, Russia knew a draw would be good enough in a balmy Cyprus against the only team who could mathematically catch them in second spot in Group I.
Manager Stanislav Cherchesov made three changes to the team that hammered the Scots, and one of those, Valencia winger Cheryshev, opened the scoring inside 10 minutes when he pinched the ball off a dawdling Charalambos Kyriakou in the Cypriot defense before racing clear to finish from a tight angle.
It was Cheryshev's 10th goal on his 25th appearance for his country, and put Russia well on course for victory.
Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Ozdoev made it 2-0 on 22 minutes when he shot home from six yards out, assisted by Cheryshev after Cyprus failed to clear their lines.
The host's night went from bad to worse when Konstantinos Laifi was handed a straight red card for a lunge on Sergey Petrov just before the half-hour mark – a challenge which later forced the Russian defender off injured.
Russia looked as if they might fail to add to their total in the second half despite their numerical advantage, but finally made it three when Dzyuba nodded in from a cross from the left to score his 24th goal in 40 international appearances.
Monaco playmaker Golovin then tucked in a fourth one minute from time as Cyprus again endured a calamity at the back, while Cheryshev bundled in his second of the night soon afterwards to complete the rout following a head-down from Dzyuba.
Russia's win guarantees a top two spot in Group I alongside leaders Belgium with two games to spare, with Stanislav Cherchesov’s team sitting second on 21 points from eight games – three behind Belgium and 11 ahead of Cyprus in third.
Russia’s final two games are at home to Belgium in St. Petersburg on November 16 and away at bottom-of-the-table San Marino three days later to complete their qualifying campaign.
Next summer’s pan-European tournament will be held in 12 cities in 12 countries in honor of the 60th anniversary of the event.
Russia will host matches at the giant Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg, including group stage games and a quarterfinal.