Artem Dzyuba scored twice for Russia in an emphatic 4-0 win over Scotland as Steve Clarke’s side suffered a calamitous second half collapse in this Euro 2020 qualifier.
The Scots arrived in Moscow with their hopes of progressing through Group I all but over, but the manner of this defeat will sting Clarke and his players. Russia, however, kept the gap between themselves and Belgium to just three points with the two teams set to clash next month.
Scotland looked relatively solid in the first, keeping Russia at arm’s length for the most part, but it was a different story in the second half. Dzyuba opened the scoring after 57 minutes, lashing a finish past David Marshall on the swivel.
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The advantage was doubled just three minutes later as Magomed Ozdoev rifled a stunning strike into the top corner from distance. And it was 3-0 soon after, with Dzyuba bullying the Scotland defence to win an aerial challenge and poke a finish home.
The scoring was capped six minutes from time as Aleksandr Golovin grabbed the goal his performance deserved, squeezing his shot in off the inside of the far post. Russia will reflect on a rampant 45 minuets, while Scotland will rue an almighty collapse.
TALKING POINT - Steve Clarke hasn’t made the sort of start many expected of him as Scotland boss
Not since the hiring of Walter Smith had a Scotland managerial appointment been so universally popular. You would have struggled to find a fan who didn’t believe Clarke was the man to turn around the Dark Blues. However, there has been no new manager bounce. In fact, Scotland might even be worse now than they were under Alex McLeish. Most surprising is that Clarke’s team look so soft at the back when he is renowned as an exceptional organiser.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Artem Dzyuba (Russia)
In Dzyuba, Russia boasted what Scotland so desperately lacked. This was an excellent performance from the veteran striker who bullied Charlie Mulgrew and Michael Devlin in the second half. Russia used him as a targetman, but Dzyuba also brought others into the game and even created chances himself. Scotland just couldn’t handle him.
Russia - Guilherme 5, Fernandes 7, Semenov 6, Dzhikia 5, Kurdjasov 6, Ozdoev 7, Barinov 5, Zhirkov 6, Ionov 7, Dzyuba 9, Golovin 8. Subs - Cheryshev, 5 Akhmetov 5, Komlichenko 5.
Scotland - Marshall 5, Palmer 4, Robertson 5, Mulgrew 3, Devlin 4, Fleck 5, Snodgrass 6, McGinn 5, McGregor 5, Fraser 6, Burke 5. Subs - Armstrong 4, Christie 4, Shankland 5.
41’ Golovin denied! The space opened up for Golovin just inside the box, he got the left-footed strike away on goal, but Marshall was equal to it. It was a nice height for the Scotland goalkeeper to make the stop.
57’ GOAL! Russia 1-0 Scotland: There's the breakthrough and it's Russia who has made it! What a finish that was from Dzyuba! He found enough space away from his marker, Mulgrew, and fired a volley on the swivel into the back of the net. Marshall stood no chance with that one.
60’ GOAL! Russia 2-0 Scotland: Two quick goals for Russia and they have a grip of this match now! It's another stunning strike! Golovin played the ball back to Ozdoev after a poor clearing header by Mulgrew and he rifled a screamer into the top corner of the Scotland net! Exceptional!
64’ Off the crossbar! What an effort that was from Dzyuba! Golovin's cross flashed across the face of goal. Dzyuba recovered it, but whipped a strike off the woodwork. Marshall was beaten. Almost another stunner.
70’ GOAL! Russia 3-0 Scotland: It's a third for Russia and this is becoming humiliating for Scotland. Fernandes knocked a header back into the danger area from the byline and Dzyuba was far too strong for Mulgrew and Devlin, poking the ball into the back of the net.
84’ GOAL! Russia 4-0 Scotland: There's the fourth goal and that had been coming. It was a lovely one-two from Golovin, he then showed great foot inside the box to take the touch and squeeze the finish in off the inside of the far post. Scotland look a sorry outfit here. Dreadful second half.
Scotland have now lost four competitive games in a row, their worst run of form since 2004.
Artem Dzyuba has now scored eight goals in his last six appearances for Russia.