Russia defeats Armenia 3-1 in St.Petersburg

A hat-trick from Roman Pavlyuchenko gave Russia a 3-1 comeback win over Armenia – but he couldn’t halt a fan exodus at Saturday’s Euro 2012 qualifier in St. Petersburg.

The Spurs striker volleyed home Russia’s second on 59 minutes, just as the two sectors behind Igor Akinfeyev’s goal emptied of home fans protesting against planned new laws controlling ‘ultra’ supporters.

Pavlyuchenko’s first goal had come on 26 minutes, volleying home an Alexander Anyukov cross moments after Marcos Pizzelli had fired Armenia into a shock lead.

And he delighted the remaining fans by converting a 73rd-minute penalty – awarded for Sarkis Hovsepyan’s crude check on Yury Zhirkov – to end any fears of an Armenian recovery.

The victory briefly lifts Russia to the top of Group B with 13 points, but rivals Slovakia and Ireland could join them if they beat Andorra and Macedonia respectively in Saturday’s later games.

ST. PETERSBURG, June 4 (RIA Novosti, The Moscow News correspondent Andy Potts)

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