Rampant Russia crushes Cyprus 6-0 in World Cup qualifiers

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia: Five second-half goals helped Russia beat Cyprus 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday as they increased their Group H lead to move closer to their place for next year’s finals in Qatar.

Aleksandr Erokhin scored in every half, with Fedor Smolov, Andrey Mostovoy, Aleksei Sutormin and Anton Zabolotny also on target in the final 35 minutes as Russia rose to 22 points in nine games, five ahead of second-placed Croatia. , who will face Malta later. Thusday.

With only the group winners guaranteed a spot for next year’s finals in Qatar, Russia will secure their place in the World Cup if Croatia does not beat Malta in Thursday’s showdown.

Russian Aleksei Sutormin’s cross from the right flank found striker Fedor Smolov in the box, who set up an unmarked Erokhin for a fourth-minute goal.

Smolov made it 2-0 in the 55th minute and less than a minute later Andrei Mostovoy beat three Cypriot defenders with his sophisticated footwork to bring the score to 3-0, beating goalkeeper Demetris Demetriou in the far left.

Sutormin headed the ball past Demetriou in the 62nd minute after a defensive blunder, while Zabolotny scored Russia’s fifth goal with a low strike. Erokhin added his second of the night in the 87th minute to complete an unmistakable victory for the hosts.

Russia face Croatia in their final qualifying game on Sunday in a clash that could decide the group winners.

Cyprus, who are at the bottom of the group with five points, will face Slovenia in what will be essentially a dead rubber, as neither team can advance to the 2022 final.

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