Pavel Pogrebnyak struck twice as Russia avoided any opening-day nerves to begin their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying bid with maximum points away against Group B rivals Andorra.
Disappointed to miss out on a 2010 FIFA World Cup spot in the play-offs, Russia began their path to victory when Pogrebnyak broke the deadlock on 14 minutes after being fed by captain Andrey Arshavin. The VfB Stuttgart striker then added a second from the spot with 64 minutes gone to get Dick Advocaat's side off the mark ahead of their meeting with Slovakia in Moscow on Tuesday, when Andorra will travel to face the Republic of Ireland.
Advocaat replaced the suspended Yuri Zhirkov with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov at left-back and his charges opened the scoring with their first real opportunity as Pogrebnyak made the most of a long pass from his former FC Zenit St. Petersburg colleague Arshavin. The Arsenal FC forward was involved in much of Russia's attacking play but he proved unable to find the target himself, while his team-mates increasingly found themselves held at bay by the Andorra defence.
Russia's second eventually came, however, and it owed much to the work of substitute Alan Dzagoev, who won a penalty soon after entering the fray on the hour mark. Andorra goalkeeper José Antonio Gómes guessed the right way but was unable to stop Pogrebnyak's powerful finish from the spot. Advocaat's men then ended the game threatening to add a third, only for Arshavin to miss the target and Igor Semshov to fail to connect with the ball in front of goal.
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