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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
How they qualified: Russia
Russia missed out on automatic qualification and had to rely on a play-off win over Wales to progress.

Russia's Vadim Evseev
07.09.02: Rep of Ireland (h) 4-2
16.10.02: Albania (h) 4-1
29.03.03: Albania (a) 1-3
30.04.03: Georgia (a) 0-1
07.06.03: Switzerland (a) 2-2
06.09.03: Rep of Ireland (a) 1-1
10.09.03: Switzerland (h) 4-1
11.10.03: Georgia (h) 3-1
15.11.03: Wales (h) 0-0
19.11.03: Wales (a) 1-0

Along with the Republic of Ireland, the Russians were strongly tipped to lead the way in Group 10.

The two met in their opening clash in Moscow. The Russians took a 2-0 lead midway through the first half thanks to goals from Andrei Kariaka and Vladimir Beschastnykh.

The Republic reduced the arrears when Gary Doherty scored with 21 minutes of the match left.

Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov restored his side's advantage almost immediately, before a strike from the Republic's Clinton Morrison meant a few nervy moments for the home side.

But a late own goal from Phil Babb ensured Russia began their path to qualification on a winning note.

A comfortable win over Albania followed before they began a run of four successive qualifiers away from home.

They made life difficult for themselves, picking up just two points from a possible 12.

Coach Valeri Gazzaev would have probably expected wins in their next two matches, against Albania and Georgia.

But the two group 'minnows' proved to be bogey teams for Russia. They lost 3-1 to Albania and followed that up with a 1-0 defeat in Georgia.

With a place in the top two under serious threat, Russia pulled their socks up to record crucial draws against Switzerland, and then the Republic of Ireland.

They got back to winning ways, seeing off Switzerland to give themselves a chance of automatic qualification.

Gazzaev's side did their part by beating Georgia, but Switzerland defeated the Republic of Ireland to win the group and leave Russia to fight for a place at Portugal via the play-offs.

Wales stood in their way. Russia found that Mark Hughes' side had not reached the play-offs purely down to good fortune as they battled to a 0-0 draw in Moscow.

The ball was now in Wales' court. However, a Vadim Evseev effort in the 22nd minute silenced the predominantly Welsh crowd in the Millennium Stadium.

Wales battled hard but created little as the visitors held on for a fairly comfortable win and qualification.

However, that was not the end of the story as the Welsh sought to have their play-off opponents thrown out of the championship after Russian midfielder Yegor Titov failed a drugs test following the first leg.

Wales appealed to Uefa and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but failed in their bid.

Team P W D L GF GAPts
Switzerland 8 4 3 1 15 11 15
Russia 8 4 2 2 19 12 14
Rep Ireland 8 3 2 3 10 11 11
Albania 8 2 2 4 11 15 8
Georgia 8 2 1 5 8 14 7

Links to more Russia stories




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