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Russia show their class to beat England and reach semis

on 24-06-2015 20:29

Russia booked their spot in the semi-final of the Cerebral Palsy World Championships with a dominant 5-0 victory against England. 

In CP football they are known as the ‘Russian Robots’, and on Wednesday the world champions showed why they are the team to beat once again.

Despite the knockout stage defeat, England’s Championships are far from over - the tournament is positional, with valuable ranking places up for grabs. Not to mention a berth at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

They also have the opportunity to make history and eclipse their previous best World Championships finish of seventh. With two more games still to play, two wins would leave England in fifth spot and assured of a Paralympic spot. 

But in the sun at St. George’s Park England seemed nervy from the start. Captain Jack Rutter pondered in possession. He conceded the ball on the edge of the box inside the first ten seconds. 

His blushes were spared as Viacheslav Larionov fired just wide. However, the tone was set. 

Russia – ranked number one in the world – went for the jugular from the off, and were ahead within six minutes. Dmitri Pestretsov scored it but it was all down to the wing work of Viacheslav Larionov, who skipped through on the right flank. 

He squared towards Pestretsov, who had got ahead of his marker Martin Sinclair, and he could not miss.

One was never going to satisfy Russia’s appetite for goals, and they continued to camp themselves inside England’s half.

Sinclair, who had a troublesome opening 15 minutes, was replaced by James Blackwell as Keith Webb attempted to quell the Russia onslaught. And initially it appeared to work.

Although Russia continued to dominate possession and were almost permanent residents inside the England half, they were largely restricted to shots from outside the box.

The majority of which flew high over the goal, and two cleared the netting behind, disappearing into the Staffordshire countryside. 

While undoubtedly under the cosh, the Three Lions had a certain level of control. But as the sun disappeared behind a cloud, so too did England’s hope of a revival as Russia scored a quick-fire double before the break.

Georgiy Albegov scored from the spot after Michael Barker was – with the faintest of touches – adjudged to have tripped Pestretsov. And on the stroke of half-time the game was put out of England's reach.

Diminutive forward Eduard Ramonov scored it, with a fine finish from range – and gave the impressive Giles Moore no chance. 

And Moore – rated among the best goalkeepers in the world – kept the score respectable as the second-half progressed. Although the Three Lions enjoyed a brief flurry of pressure at start of the second half as Barker and Rutter both went close. 

In truth, though, Russia were a world apart. Tireless as robots, they added two more – through Ivan Potekhin and Alexander Kuligin – and cruised to victory and a place in the semi-finals. 

For England, attention turns to Friday and a positional play-off fixture against USA.

England: 1 Giles Moore, 4 Matthew Crossen, 5 Jack Rutter, 6 Martin Sinclair, 7 Michael Barker, 9 George Fletcher, 12 Jake Brown.  

Substitutes: 8 James Blackwell for Sinclair 15; 3 Karl Townshend for Brown 32; 11 Oliver Nugent for Rutter 48.

Substitutes not used: 2 Harry Baker, 13 Ryan Kay.

Bookings: Barker

Head coach: Keith Webb 

Russia: 16 Vladislav Raretckii, 9 Eduard Ramonov, 10 Dmitri Pestretsov, 13 Lasha Murvanadze, 14 Georgiy Albegov, 15 Viacheslav Larionov, 18 Alexander Kuligin.

Substitutes: 23 Alexei Borkin for Larionov HT; 8 Ivan Potekhin for Murvanadze HT; 17 Zaurbek Pagaev for Kuligin. 

Substitutes not used: 3 Aslanbek Sapiev, 6 Alexey Tumakov, 7 Alexey Chesmin, 12 Guram Chkraeuli.

Goals: Pestretsov 6, Albegov 26p, Ramonov 30+1, Potekhin 38, Kuligin 51. 

Head coach: Avtandil Baramidze

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