Pavlyuchenko bags brace in Russia romp

ST PETERSBURG - Roman Pavlyuchenko converted two penalties to steer Russia to a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Liechtenstein which lifted them within one point of Group Four leaders Germany on Saturday.

The home team, missing several injured players including Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin and Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov, scored three first-half goals at the rain-soaked Petrovsky stadium.

Defender Vasily Berezutsky struck with a powerful drive in the 17th minute before Tottenham Hotspur striker Pavlyuchenko netted in the 39th and 45th minutes.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink, though, was not totally satisfied with his team's performance.

"The first half was nearly perfect but unfortunately I can't say that about our play after the break," the Dutchman told reporters. "I didn't like what I saw then at all."

Hiddink added he was hopeful captain Arshavin would recover from a groin injury to face Wales on Wednesday.

Second-placed Russia, with 18 points from seven matches, stayed five points ahead of third-placed Finland who beat Azerbaijan 2-1 on Saturday.

Bottom of the table Liechtenstein have one point.