Russia made Portugal pay for the first-half dismissal of João Pereira as they cantered to a 4-1 victory in the first leg of their play-off for a place in the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Pereira was sent off in the 42nd minute with the score at 1-1 and Russia pressed home their advantage after the interval with goals from Igor Denisov, Kiril Nababkin and Evgueny Savin putting them in a commanding position ahead of Tuesday's return in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Aleksandr Borodyuk's side jumped in front after only five minutes. Savin found himself in space on the left and crossed low towards the onrushing Denisov, who shot past Paulo Ribeiro. It did not take Portugal long to respond and after a period of pressure they levelled on 12 minutes. João Moutinho was the creator, controlling the ball inside the area before releasing Paulo Machado with a stunning back-heel to fire low past Russia goalkeeper Dmitri Khomich.
José Couceiro's team continued to attack and Khomich had to be at his best to tip a Moutinho header on to the post. But their ascendancy was short-lived and the balance of the game slipped back into Russia's favour when Pereira was shown a second yellow card for a challenge from behind on Andrei Eshchenko three minutes before the break.
Russia made their numerical superiority tell almost immediately after the restart with Nababkin driving into the bottom corner after a goalmouth scramble. They went further ahead on 64 minutes when Dmitri Torbinski crossed for Savin who placed a diving header past Ribeiro.
Portugal came close to reducing the deficit when Ruben Amorim hit the crossbar with a free-kick just a minute later, but it was Russia who had the final say. Four minutes into added time substitute Alexandre Dantzev was brought down in the box allowing Denisov to step up and score his second of the night from the penalty spot and make Russia firm favourites to win a place in the final tournament in the Netherlands next summer.