Goals by Viktor Faizulin and Roman Shirokov gave Fabio Capello’s Russia a winning start in their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Group F on Friday.
Faizulin, appearing in only his second international after making his debut in last month’s friendly against Ivory Coast, put the home side ahead with a fine strike on the half-hour in Italian coach Capello’s first competitive match in charge.
Russia dominated the match but only stretched their lead when Shirokov calmly slotted home a penalty in the 78th minute to wrap up the points for the home side after defender Craig Cathcart was harshly judged to have pushed Alexander Kokorin.
The visitors, ranked 116 positions below 13th-placed Russia by FIFA, rarely got out of their half and had only one effort on goal - a Gareth McAuley header that was cleared off the line.
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