Russia substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko struck twice on his club ground to put his country's UEFA EURO 2008™ fate in their own hands with a dramatic comeback victory against England.
The visitors led just before the half-hour through a Wayne Rooney volley, and looked good for the win that would have secured qualification for both themselves and Croatia from Group E. But FC Spartak Moksva forward Roman Pavlyuchenko was brought on early in the second half and equalised with a penalty before scoring again four minutes later to the delight of the Luzhniki Stadium fans.
Konstantin Zyrianov had forced Paul Robinson into a save on 25 minutes, the goalkeeper tipping his shot on to the post, and that proved valuable as just before the half-hour a Micah Richards clearance was flicked on by Michael Owen and Rooney, just onside, lifted the ball above Vladimir Gabulov and in. As Russia searched for a swift equaliser, Yuri Zhirkov sent away Igor Semshov but Joe Cole dashed back to make a sliding challenge.
Dmitri Torbinskiy, used to the artificial surface from his club games with Spartak, was a half-time introduction, but England came close to doubling the lead when Gareth Barry's cross fell to the unmarked Steven Gerrard yet the stand-in captain sliced his volley wide. Coach Guus Hiddink introduced the other available Spartak player, Pavlyuchenko, and Russia started to attack, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov being denied by a Sol Campbell tackle after a one-two with Andrei Arshavin.
The equaliser then arrived as Rooney tripped Zyrianov just inside the box and Pavlyuchenko's penalty was too strong for Robinson. Four minutes later Pavlyuchenko struck again, first to the rebound after Robinson had saved Arshavin's shot. Shaun Wright-Phillips nearly managed a quick leveller, but he was kept out and Russia held on. Wins in Israel and Andorra next month would take Russia through, even if England defeat Croatia on 21 November.