Euro 2012 qual. - Round-up: Pav fires treble
Roman Pavlyuchenko struck a hat-trick to give Russia a valuable 3-1 win over Armenia in European Championship qualifying Group B.
Russia, who went into the game level on points with Ireland and Slovakia at the top of an impossibly tight group, fell behind when Brazilian-born Marcos Pizzelli, who received Armenian citizenship in 2008, scored in the 25th minute.
Russia, who drew 0-0 with Armenia in Yerevan in March, equalised almost immediately with Pavlyuchenko's well taken volley.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker made it 2-1 just before the hour after a quick passing exchange between captain Andrei Arshavin and Igor Semshov on the left wing before sealing the win with a 73rd-minute penalty after Yuri Zhirkov was fouled.
Pavlyuchenko, who last month criticised Russia coach Dick Advocaat's team selection, was only in the starting lineup after leading scorer Alexander Kerzhakov suffered a knee injury.
"Of course, I'm quite happy with the outcome but not how we played," said Advocaat. "We had no margin for error in this match as we could not afford to lose any points. This made us look nervous."
Russia are one of three teams in the group on 13 points from six matches after Ireland beat Macedonia 2-0 with a Robbie Keane double and Slovakia scraped a 1-0 win at home to bottom team Andorra thanks to a second-half goal from Miroslav Karhan.
A routine 3-1 win over Malta kept Greece top of Group F while Israel stayed in the hunt by beating Latvia for the second time in three months, this time winning 2-1 away.
Forward Giannis Fetfatzidis scored twice for Greece who have 14 points from six games, one more than Croatia and Israel.
A 53rd minute goal from Helder Postiga earned Portugal a 1-0 win over Norway in Lisbon in Group H with Denmark enjoying a 2-0 away victory over Iceland courtesy of second-half goals from Lasse Schone (60) and Christian Erkisen (75).
Portugal, Denmark and Norway are level on 10 points at the top of the section having played five games apiece.