England 3 Russia 0 ( Wembley European qualifier )
A convincing 3-0 win over Guus Hiddink's Russia gave England 3 vital points with 3 matches remaining. A Garteh Barry cross in the 7th minute fell to Michael Owen who coolly picked his spot and scored off the post to give England the perfect start. Russia were unlucky to have a Konstantin Zhyrianov goal ruled out for handball and a minute later Shaun Wright-Phillips lofted his free header over the bar. Joe Cole had his deflected shot saved before Heskey knocked the ball on for Owen to double England's lead with an emphatic strike past the keeper. The Russians had a better start to the second half, but England quickly got back into the match and their impressive performance was capped in the 84th minute when Rio Ferdinand tricked his marker in the box and beat Malaev at the near post for England's third goal.
Michael Owen gets England started
Among Other Matches on the night:
James McFadden scored a stunner from 35 yards to give Scotland a historic 1-0 win away to France, while Antonio Di Natale scored both goals as Italy triumphed 2-1 in Ukraine. Craig Bellamy scored twice inspiring Wales to a 5-2 demolition of Slovakia in Trnava. Irish hopes were dashed in Prague when they lost to a Marek Jankulovski goal, while a last minute own goal condemned Northern Ireland to a 2-1 defeat in Iceland despite Healy scoring again for his country. There were no changes in group A as all 3 matches were drawn; Kazakhstan came from 2 down to draw with visitors Belgium, while a late Serbia goal silenced the Stadium of Light as Portugal were held 1-1, and Poland played out a goalless draw in Finland. Ruud Van Nistelrooy scored the only goal of the match to save Dutch blushes in Albania, while in group F Denmark put 4 past Liechtenstein, scoring all 4 in the first 36 minutes with Morten Nordstrand bagging a brace. Sotirios Kyrgiakos registered 2 for the European champions Greece to draw 2-2 in Norway. Hungary fell apart in Turkey after the dismissal of their captain Zoltan Gera, losing 3-0 with all the goals coming in the last 21 minutes.