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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Owen Powers England Past Russia 3-0

ReutersEngland's Michael Owen scoring the first of his two goals past goalie Vyacheslav Malafeyev in their Euro 2008 qualifying match Wednesday at Wembley.
WEMBLEY, England -- Plenty of hype preceded Russia's qualifier against England, but Michael Owen decided to let his pair of goals do all the talking Wednesday.

Bouncing back from two injury-wrecked seasons, the England striker was the dominant force in his side's 3-0 rout of the Russian national team.

The win was England's second in five days, and it demoted Russia -- which had only conceded one goal in eight previous qualifying matches -- into third place in the Group E standings. Both teams were desperate for the win at Wembley after Croatia beat Andorra 6-0 earlier Wednesday to move to 23 points and boost its goal difference.

Croatia looks increasingly likely to qualify, and England now appears to have the edge over Russia as the pair fight for the seven-team group's only remaining qualifying spot. With three games to play, England has 20 points to Russia's 18.

Israel, against whom Owen also scored in a 3-0 win on Saturday, is another point back and seemingly slipping from contention.

Owen took his tally to 40 goals Wednesday, fourth on England's all-time list and nine behind leader Bobby Charlton.

The Newcastle striker scored in the seventh and 31st minutes before defender Rio Ferdinand completed the victory in the 84th, but the match could have been very different if Russia had not had a goal ruled out in the first half because of a handball.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink made three changes from the side that beat Macedonia 3-0 on Saturday, although two of the dropped players -- Vladimir Bystrov and Alexander Kerzhakov -- made it on as substitutes.

The former was on as early as the 40th minute as Hiddink tried to revive his team after England dominated the opening exchanges.

Gareth Barry's corner kick was cut out but the ball came back out wide to the midfielder, who again swung it in from the right with his left boot.

The leaping defenders failed to stop the ball, and it fell at Owen's feet. The striker had time to pick his spot to goalie Vyacheslav Malafeyev's left.

"The corner kick we didn't defend well," Hiddink said.

Malafeev saved Emile Heskey's shot and Owen just failed to slide in on the rebound before Ashley Cole and Barry combined to deny Russia captain Andrei Arshavin a chance at the other end.

With England then pressing, Russia started to find space and almost drew level in the 20th minute. John Terry blocked a shot inside the area, and the rebound spun up to Yuri Zhirkov, whose goal was disallowed because he had controlled the ball with his arm.

That chance seemed to inspire Russia for a short period of pressure as it pushed wing backs Zhirkov and Alexander Anyukov further forward.

"We had some pressure on England and they were panicking," Hiddink said. "If we had that goal, they would have been even worse. It was key in the game."

England goalkeeper Paul Robinson saved from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, but England reasserted itself and Joe Cole had a deflected shot pushed away by Malafeyev.

Owen made it 2-0 when he reached Heskey's flick on and volleyed into the top corner from just inside the area.

With Heskey restored to the team for the past two games following three years away from the national side, and he is flourishing alongside Owen.

"He's been out for three years and everyone wonders 'Will he come back?'" England coach Steve McClaren said. "But it was all about the partnerships out there."

Dmitry Sychyov twice went close at the start of the second half and Ashley Cole was lucky not to concede a penalty when he bundled over Bystrov in the area after trying to let the ball roll out for a corner.

Ferdinand then twice put pressure on his teammates with mistakes before scoring.

Barry again got a corner kick played back to him and he passed to Owen on the corner of the area. Owen slipped the ball to Ferdinand, who shaped as though he was going to shoot before beating a defender and shooting low into the corner.

"We've just got to enjoy it, but keep our feet on the ground," McClaren said. "We've set a standard, but we've got to continue with that."