Artem Dzyuba struck four as Russia boosted their hopes of automatic qualification for UEFA EURO 2016 with a comfortable away success against ten-man Liechtenstein in Group G.
Dzyuba, who netted a clincher against Sweden on matchday seven, took his campaign total to seven as the visitors moved two points clear of the Scandinavians – beaten at home by Austria – and into second position.
Russia, who made a winning start under new coach Leonid Slutski on Saturday, triumphed thanks to a dominant first-half display as they raced into a three-goal lead before the break. Needing an away victory to maintain their chances of a top-two finish, Russia took command on 21 minutes via Dzyuba's close-range finish following Roman Shirokov's cheeky back-heeled pass.
Liechtenstein, without a competitive success in nine home games prior to kick-off, saw their prospects of a comeback suffer a fatal blow when Daniel Kaufmann was sent off for bringing down Dzyuba inside the area. Aleksandr Kokorin converted the resulting spot kick on 40 minutes. Five minutes later, sent clear by Shirokov's lofted through ball, Dzyuba added his second with a calm finish moments before the interval.
After the restart, the visitors had a monopoly on possession, yet poor finishing initially let Russia down before they plundered another four goals. Dzyuba claimed his hat-trick on 73 minutes, a tap-in following excellent work from Dmitri Kombarov on the left flank. Four minutes later, it was 5-0 as substitute Fedor Smolov swept home from close range.
Alan Dzagoev then converted a free-kick in brilliant fashion on 85 minutes before Dzyuba registered his fourth in the 90th minute after an error from home custodian Peter Jehle.
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