Roman Pavlyuchenko told UEFA.com he was "not a hero" after deputising in style for the injured Aleksandr Kerzhakov with a hat-trick in Russia's 3-1 UEFA EURO 2012 win against Armenia.
Tottenham Hotspur FC striker Pavlyuchenko was called upon to replace Kerzhakov when the latter suffered a thigh problem in the final training session before Saturday's Group B encounter. He fully embraced the understudy role by cancelling out, on the volley, Armenia's opening goal from Marcos Pizzelli, before scoring two more in the second half – first following a slick move, then from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute.
However, he refused to revel in those achievements after full time in St Petersburg. "I am not a hero," he told UEFA.com. "Of course I am delighted to get three goals but I do not believe we did anything special. Three goals do not mean I am in brilliant form – I've just done my job. I should also thank my team-mates who created the goals. Aleksandr Anyukov's cross for the first meant all I had to do was take care with my finish. The second was even easier – a tap-in."
Russia had been held 0-0 by Armenia in Yerevan in March and could ill afford a repeat result in a section where they sit level at the top with the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia on 13 points. "You have to give credit to Armenia who put in a good performance in Saint Petersburg," Pavlyuchenko, 29, added. "They scored one and had chances to get another, but I think we wanted the win a bit more."
Having taken to the pitch in determined mood, Russia were unnerved to fall behind to Pizzelli's 25th-minute strike. "The players talked together a few days before the match, to encourage each other to get our teeth into Armenia," said Pavlyuchenko. "
We said we had to press them from the off and show them who is the home team. We pressed, we attacked and then we conceded a goal. That was a shock because we were on top at the time."
Even though Pavlyuchenko found the equaliser within 60 seconds, that did not spare Russia a half-time harangue from coach Dick Advocaat. "We equalised quickly, but then had a tough conversation with Dick Advocaat at the interval which helped us improve in the second half and go on to win," said a player now with 19 goals from 40 national-team appearances.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.