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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 20:50 GMT 21:50 UK
England 3-0 Russia
By Mandeep Sanghera

England striker Michael Owen
Owen was back to his lethal best in front of goal for England
A Michael Owen brace helped a vibrant England to a vital win over Euro 2008 qualifying rivals Russia.

Owen was composure personified when Gareth Barry's cross fell to him 10 yards out and he sidefooted in off the post to give England an early lead.

Russia's Konstantin Zhyrianov had a goal harshly ruled out for handball before a lethal Owen powered in a shot.

England weathered a spell of pressure from Russia before Rio Ferdinand angled in a shot to complete the win.

England's performance had Wembley rocking at the end of a game which began with tensions high as Russia led Steve McClaren's side by a point in Group E.

A Russia win would have all but ended England's hopes of reaching Euro 2008 and the visitors began by trying to deny the hosts the sort of time and space Israel afforded them on Saturday.

But an England side exuding confidence quickly asserted their authority, and Owen put them ahead after seven minutes with a clinically-struck trademark finish.

Steven Gerrard dinked a ball through the heart of Russia's backline to set up Heskey, who got the nod ahead of Peter Crouch to start, but his shot was blocked by keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.

Owen appeared to slip as he attempted to slot in the loose ball as a second goal eluded England.

606: DEBATE
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Russia tried to hit back as they pressed for an equaliser, and England were reprieved when Zhyrianov slotted in a shot only to be harshly penalised for handball.

A Shaun Wright-Phillips point-blank header went wide before England keeper Paul Robinson had to dive to his right to smartly palm away a Diniyar Bilyaletdinov strike.

England regained the upper hand with a slick passing game intertwined with clever movement, which left Russia struggling to cope.

TOP ENGLAND SCORERS
Bobby Charlton - 49 goals (from 106 games)
Gary Lineker - 48 goals (from 80 games)
Jimmy Greaves - 44 goals (from 57 games)
Michael Owen - 40 goals (from 85 games)

Joe Cole had a deflected shot saved before a second Owen goal put the gloss on an impressive first half from England.

Owen was found in space by a Heskey flick-on and he arrowed in a shot for his 40th international goal.

The precise passing and discipline of Gareth Barry was particularly impressive for England, but they were given two early scares after the interval.

Dmitri Sychev powered an angled shot across goal just wide and just failed to make contact with a the ball as he slid into meet a near-post cross.

Gareth Barry
Barry (right) was one of England's star performers

A resurgent England professionally closed out the win as McClaren's balanced and buoyant side showed maturity and mettle.

Ferdinand latched on to a pass from Owen and lashed in a shot to put the icing on the cake at the end of an open and entertaining match.


England: Robinson, Richards, Ferdinand, Terry, Ashley Cole, Wright-Phillips, Barry, Gerrard, Joe Cole (Neville 88), Heskey (Crouch 80), Owen (Downing 90).
Subs Not Used: James, Brown, Smith, Johnson.

Booked: Joe Cole.

Goals: Owen 7, 31, Ferdinand 84.

Russia: Malafeev, Vasili Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Alexei Berezutsky, Aniukov (Kerzhakov 80), Bilyaletdinov, Zhirkov, Semshov (Bystrov 40), Sychev (Pavluchenko 63), Arshavin, Zurianov.
Subs Not Used: Shunin, Torbinsky, Pogrebniak, Kolodin.

Att: 86,106

Ref: Martin Hansson (Sweden).



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