Russia vs. Portugal: Final score 1-0, Kerzhakov's early goal enough for Russia

Shaun Botterill - Getty Images

Alexander Kerzhakov's goal in the 6th minute was all Russia needed to defeat Portugal.

An early goal from Alexander Kerzhakov and a major lack of ideas from Portugal on the attack allowed Russia to earn an important 1-0 victory in Moscow.

Russia wasted little time testing the Portugal defense and subsequently, slicing it apart. Igor Denisov's pass combined with a great run from Alexander Kerzhakov, turned Pepe in circles and allowed Kerzhakov a one-on-one chance against Rui Patricio. He did not waste the opportunity, blasting a shot over the goalkeepers shoulder as he went to ground, trying to make the save.

To Portugal's credit, they responded well after the goal as Russia took their foot off the gas...unless of course Fabio Capello was happy to sit on the early goal. Portugal's problems continued though in the 20th minute when defender Fábio Coentrão was forced to leave the match due to an injury, replaced by Miguel Lopes. Even with that, Portugal dominated possession for the rest of the half, but failed to break through the Russian defense.

This was also the story of the second half.

Portugal did just about everything right everywhere on the plastic pitch except in the final third. Russia remained compact defensively and took advantage of the fact that Portugal failed to really every challenge them. Searching balls in to the box are great, but at some point you should probably try to use some of that attacking speed to stretch and break down the wall of red jerseys that Russia assembled in front of goal.

For whatever reason, Portugal didn't, choosing instead to get frustrated and continue to play more and more in to Russia's hands. Russia move to the top of Group F by themselves with nine points as they attempt to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002.

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