Russia dismiss Bulgaria to go top

Russia 3-1 Bulgaria
Nikolai Pisarev's team marched to the top of Group 2 thanks in part to a pair of goals from striker Vladimir Obukhov.

Konstantin Bazelyuk (centre) scored Russia's third
Konstantin Bazelyuk (centre) scored Russia's third ©Evgeny Mokrousov/Sportarchiv

Vladimir Obukhov scored twice as Russia recorded their third straight win in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 2 against ten-man Bulgaria.

The visitors' task became a mountainous one when defender Angel Granchov was sent off in conceding a penalty after 18 minutes and Obukhov kept his composure from the spot.

Bulgaria restored parity on the stroke of half-time courtesy of Aleksandar Kolev, but their joy was short-lived – Obukhov rattled in his second three minutes after the interval. Konstantin Bazelyuk rounded off the scoring as Russia moved above their opponents at the head of the section.

The hosts seized the early initiative when Bulgaria were reduced to men after Granchov upended Bazelyuk in the penalty area. Obukhov rolled in the ensuing kick, before Aleksander Kozlov rattled the woodwork on the half-hour mark.

The pendulum looked to have swung in favour of Bulgaria when Kolev steered Milen Gamakov's free-kick past Egor Baburin, but Obukhov swiftly restored order.

The goal owed much to the work Aleksander Kozlov, who beat his marker before delivering a back-post cross for the FC Spartak Moskva striker to register his third goal of qualifying. Russia put the result beyond doubt 15 minutes later, Bazelyuk taking receipt of Igor Lambarski's pass and finishing unerringly beyond Dimitar Evtimov.