Roman Pavlyuchenko scored two penalties in the space of six minutes as Russia made light work of Liechtenstein in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in rain-soaked St Petersburg.
Centre-back Vasili Berezutsky opened the scoring in the Group 4 match before Tottenham striker Pavlyuchenko settled the contest with two goals before the break. Coach Guus Hiddink was missing Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhirkov and Denis Kolodin through injury and started Everton newcomer Denis Bilyaletdinov at left-back, but the changes did not prevent Russia from recording a simple victory.
It was clear visiting goalkeeper Peter Jehle was going to be in for a busy afternoon when he was called into action twice in the 13th minute. First Vladimir Bystrov capped a fine move with a toe poke that Jehle turned behind for a corner, from which Sergei Ignashevich's powerful close-range header was kept out by the Liechtenstein stopper, although he knew little about it.
Russia opened the scoring four minutes later with a goal crafted by an unlikely combination between central defensive duo Vasili Berezutsky and Sergei Ignashevich. Ignashevich headed the ball back into the danger area after Liechtenstein had cleared a Russia corner and CSKA Moscow teammate Berezutsky beat the offside trap to fire past Jehle from 10 yards.
Six minutes before half-time Pavlyuchenko doubled Russia's advantage from the penalty spot after Igor Denisov had been tripped by Liechtenstein right-back Marco Ritzberger following a one-two with Zenit team-mate Konstantin Zyryanov. And Pavlyuchenko scored again for the spot on the stroke of half-time when Aleksandr Kerzhakov was bundled over by Franz-Josef Vogt to put Russia 3-0 up at the break.
FC Moscow midfielder Aleksei Rebko was brought on with twenty minutes remaining for his Russia debut but, despite dominating possession, the hosts failed to add to their tally in the second period, with the worsening conditions and slippery pitch making for a scrappy second 45 minutes.
Liechtenstein had a couple of sights of goals in the second half, with veteran striker Mario Frick shooting harmlessly off target from distance on both occasions. Hiddink's afternoon was spoilt slightly, though, by a yellow card to Denisov, who will now miss Wednesday's match against Wales in Cardiff through suspension.