EURO 2020: Russia join Belgium and Italy in finals
Russia's midfielder Denis Cheryshev shoots to score past Cyprus' goalkeeper Constantinos Panagi (right) during the Euro 2020 Group I qualifiers match. - AFP
Nicosia - The Russians only needed a draw to ensure a top-two finish and qualification but an early strike from Denis Cheryshev set them on their way to a their seventh victory in eight qualification games.
Russia booked their place in next year's European Championship finals with a comprehensive 5-0 win over 10-man Cyprus in Nicosia on Sunday.
Russia are the third team to qualify for the 24-team tournament, following Group I rivals Belgium and Italy from Group J.
The Russians only needed a draw to ensure a top-two finish and qualification but an early strike from Denis Cheryshev set them on their way to a their seventh victory in eight qualification games.
He struck home from a tight angle after just nine minutes.
The Valencia player then turned provider as he set up Magomed Ozdoev for the second goal in the 23rd minute.
Any hopes Cyprus had of forcing a comeback evaporated when Konstantinos Laifis was shown a straight red card in the 28th minute after a horror tackle.
Cyprus then lost two players to injury before halftime with winger Panayiotis Zachariou and then goalkeeper Constantinos Panayi forced to the sidelines.
Russia made the extra man count in the final stages of the game with three more goals.
Artem Dzyuba made it 3-0 with 11 minutes to play and then helped set up Aleksandr Golovin for the fourth in the 89th minute.
Cheryshev finished off a dominant showing with the fifth goal with the last effort of the game.
Russia are second in the group behind Belgium, who have won all eight of their qualifiers. Russia next meet Belgium in St Petersburg on Nov. 16.
Belgium beat Kazakhstan 2-0 earlier on Sunday with goals from Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier.
Defeat for the Kazakhs allowed Scotland to move fourth - behind third placed Cyprus - after a 6-0 win over San Marino at Hampden Park where John McGinn scored a first half hat trick.
Second half contributions came from Lawrence Shankland, Stuart Findlay and Stuart Armstrong.