Russia on brink of Euro 2020 after Dzyuba downs hapless Scots
Paris: Russia closed in on Euro 2020 on Thursday after Artem Dzyuba's brace helped see off poor Scotland 4-0 and put his side to within a point of qualification for next summer's tournament.
Captain Dzyuba opened the scoring 12 minutes after the break in Moscow when he crashed home a close-range volley from a corner and put Russia three goals
up with a tap-in 20 minutes from the end.
Magomed Ozdoev scored the goal of the night with a thumping longe-range effort seconds after Dzyuba had got the ball rolling for the hosts, while the lively Aleksandr Golovin completed the rout six minutes from time to leave the Scots pinning their Euros hopes on the Nations League playoffs.
"It was a game of two halves indeed. What happened during half-time in the dressing room? Well, it was quite a loud 15 minutes," said Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Dzyuba.
"It definitely made us play better and we showed what we can do."
The comfortable win puts Russia, second in Group I, three points behind already-qualified Belgium with three matches left and eight ahead of
third-placed Cyprus, who snatched a late 2-1 win at Kazakhstan earlier and who host Russia on Sunday.
A draw in Nicosia would be enough to guarantee Stanislav Cherchesov's side at least second place and a spot in the multi-host nation event.
Despite being eliminated from the main qualifying phase following their fourth straight defeat, Scotland could still make it to the Euros through the UEFA Nations League play-offs.
Steve Clarke's side won Group C1, securing both a place in League B for the next edition of the Nations League and a chance to book a place in their first major tournament since 1998.
"We have a chance to qualify for the Euros through the Nations League play-offs and we're looking forward to it," said Scotland captain Andy Robertson.
"We have to improve and be at our best to be winning games."
As it stands they will take on Group C2 winners Finland in March's semi-finals and one of Norway or Serbia in the final, although all three are still in contention for the tournament through the main qualification route.
The Finns are currently second to Italy in Group J, while Serbia are a point behind second-placed Portugal in Group B and the Norwegians two behind Scandinavian rivals Sweden in
Should any of those teams qualify, the next best-placed teams in the League C groups would take their place.