Arshavin helps Russia to feast on Finnish errors

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The Independent Football

Russia beat Finland 3-0 in their Group Four World Cup qualifier yesterday after the visitors put the first two goals into their own net. The Euro 2008 semi-finalists opened the scoring midway through the first half when Petri Pasanen, fighting off the Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, mishit into his own goal.

The Russians, beaten by Germany 2-1 in Dortmund last Saturday, went two up in the 65th minute when Veli Lampi scored a second own goal when trying to clear the ball off the line.

The Russia playmaker Andrei Arshavin, a long-term target of Tottenham Hotspur, added a third two minutes from time with a great solo effort, beating two defenders before rounding the keeper and slotting calmly into an empty net.

Arshavin and Yuri Zhirkov created most of the chances for the home team in the fast-paced game. The visitors rarely threatened Russia's keeper Igor Akinfeyev with their lone striker Mikael Forssell closely guarded.

The Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen joined a number of other English-based players in the Finnish team, with Liverpool's Sami Hyypia at the heart of the visitors' defence. Sunderland's Teemu Tainio made an appearance from the bench, as did Hyypia's former Reds team-mate Jari Litmanen.

The win moved Russia into second place on six points, level with Wales, who faced the group leaders Germany later last night. Finland are fourth with four points.

The Czech Republic beat Slovenia 1-0 in Teplice in another of yesterday's early kick-offs. Libor Sionko scored the winner for the hosts in a bad-tempered match which produced six bookings. Slovakia were due to play Poland and Northern Ireland were hosting San Marino in last night's other Group Three matches.

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