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Alexander Kerzhakov scores late winner for Fabio Capello's men

By David Kent

Russia started their World Cup countdown with a 1-0 win over Slovakia in St Petersburg on Monday.

Former England boss Fabio Capello picked a strong team for the clash minus injured captain Roman Shirokov, but it took them until the 82nd minute for them to take the lead through substitute Alexander Kerzhakov.

The Zenit St Petersburg striker Kerzhakov, who replaced Alexander Kokorov in the 75th minute, headed in the game's only goal after a cross from debutant Maxim Kannunikov.

Alexander Kokorin had earlier thought he'd put Russia in front after latching onto a Sergei Ignashevich through ball before lifting the ball over keeper Jan Mucha.

But Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg ruled the Dynamo Moscow player offside.

Kerzhakov's goal was his 25th for Russia - two more will make him the nation's all-time top scorer.

Capello's side now have friendlies against Norway on May 31 and Morocco on June 5 before heading for Brazil to contest their first World Cup finals in 12 years.

They'll take on South Korea, Belgium and Algeria in group H., 26 May 2014

Russia 1-0 Slovakia
May 26, 2014
International Friendlies
Stadion 'Kuban' - Krasnodar
Attendance: 11,500
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England).
Russia: Akinfeev (Lodygin, 75), Yeschenko (Kozlov, 46), V.Berezutsky, Ignashevich, D.Kombarov, Faitzulin (Mogilevets, 86), Denisov (c), Dzagoev (Kanunnikov, 46), Samedov (Ionov, 75), Shatov, Kokorin (Kerzhakov, 75).
Главный тренер: Фабио Капелло (Италия).
Manager: Fabio Capello.
Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarik, Durica, Hubocan (Cikos, 77), Gyomber, Pecovsky (Salata, 68), Mak, Weiss (Sabo, 72), Stoch (Sestak, 89), Kiss, Nemec (Sylvestr, 62).
Manager: Jan Kozak.
Goal: Kerzhakov (82).

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