Russia continued their unbeaten start to UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying under Guus Hiddink with an Aleksandr Kerzhakov-inspired victory in front of a full house in Tallinn.
Kerzhakov made one and scored one in 12 minutes in the second half to ensure Russia repeated the scoreline by which they beat Group E rivals Estonia in St Petersburg in October. Russia remain second in the group behind Croatia, moving away from Israel, England and F.Y.R. Macedonia who all dropped points today.
Both teams began in positive fashion. Kerzhakov sent the ball over Mart Poom's goal early on but Estonia then took the initiative, especially down the left flank of Ragnar Klavan. The first chance, however, fell to Sergei Terehhov in the 14th minute, his header tipped over by Igor Akinfeev. Three minutes later Klavan robbed Aleksandr Anyukov on the edge of the area but Akinfeev stood tall. Russia now retook control, Kerzhakov especially active but unable to break the deadlock before the interval.
On the hour Estonia substitute Gert Kams made Akinfeev save, yet Russia started to dominate through ex-FC Zenit St. Petersburg forwards Andrei Arshavin and Kerzhakov. On 62 minutes Kerzhakov sent Arshavin through and the Russia captain forced Poom to make a low one-handed stop. Three minutes later, Kerzhakov's thunderous strike was met by a brilliant Poom save.
Seconds on, though, Arshavin and Kerzhakov exchanged first-time passes and the latter raced through and lifted the ball goalwards over Poom, with Vladimir Bystrov making sure. With 12 minutes remaining Kerzhakov made it two, again combining with Arshavin as well as Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and debutant Dmitri Torbinskiy, with Poom being unable to keep out his low show from the edge of the box. Estonia hit the crossbar late on but remain without a point or goal in Group E.