Russia 1 Portugal 0

Portugal attacked more, Russia played with intelligence and insight...and the ball went into the net. The goal-scorer was Aleksandr Kerzhakov on six minutes. Russia has nine points from three games and sits atop the qualifying group F for FIFA 2012 Brazil.

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. Six minutes, first half. Roman Shirokov found his Zenit Saint Petersburg team-mate Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who slipped through to face Rui Patrício, beating the Portuguese goalkeeper to set the score and win the match. Fábio Capello's side has three victories from three games.

After the six minutes is where the rest of the match resides, and also with this the future of these two teams. The truth of the matter is that while Russia won the game, the statistics speak for Portugal. Twelve shots against seven, Portugal having six on target and six off, while Russia had four on and four off. Portugal had seven corners against Russia's two.

However, Russia (position 13 in the FIFA ranking) won the game against a side nine points ahead (Portugal is in fourth position). In the previous two games, Russia has beaten Northern Ireland 2-0 and Israel 4-0 away. Three games, three victories, seven goals scored and none conceded. Portugal beat Luxembourg away 2-1 and Azerbaijan at home 3-0. Three games, two victories and a defeat, five goals scored and two against.

Portugal tonight in the Luzhniki stadium responded to Kerzhakov's strike through shots by Cristiano Ronaldo and Hélder Postiga and on 15 minutes, Miguel Veloso delivered a free kick which Bruno Alves almost converted. However, Kerzhakov could have added his second before the interval. At half time, 1-0, which could have been 2-2.

In the second half, Russia decided to play a contention game relying on the counter-attack, which was nearer to producing results than Portugal's constant pressing, meeting an immovable mass in the Russian defence.

Russia 3 Games 9 points

Portugal 3, 6

Israel 3, 4

Northern Ireland 2, 1

Azerbaijan 2, 1

Luxembourg 3,1


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey