The Lokomotiv Moscow striker provided the exclamation point to a resounding Russian victory with his superb solo effort in the 82nd minute.
Having collected Andrey Arshavin‘s pass in the left channel, Pavlyuchenko cut inside onto his right foot and headed towards goal. Twisting and turning his way into the area, the Russian wiggled free from Czech defender Roman Hubnik just long enough to fire the ball home past goalkeeper Petr Cech and put the game to bed.
In a game they dominated throughout, the Russians only held a slim 2-1 lead when manager Dick Advocaat brought Pavlyuchenko on for the ineffective Aleksander Kerzhakov in the 74th minute. The striker had an immediate impact, setting up winger Alan Dzagoev‘s goal in the 79th minute before netting his own just three minutes later.
Though Pavlyuchenko will have been disappointed not to start, the historically poor performance of Kerzhakov (hitting seven shots off target to claim a UEFA European Championships record) may see Advocaat recall the former Tottenham Hotspur striker to the starting 11.
With Arshavin looking sharp after his loan move from Arsenal to Zenit St. Petersburg, Russia will be hoping for a repeat of its scintillating Euro 2008 performance. Then, Arshavin carried the side all the way to the semifinals, though it remains to be seen whether the captain can repeat the trick this time around.
Russia currently occupies the top spot in Group A, ahead of Poland, Greece, and the Czech Republic with one round in the books. On Tuesday, Pavlyuchenko and company will look to secure qualification for the knockout rounds with a victory over Robert Lewandowski and Poland in the second game of the group stage.
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