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Shirokov proves captain fantastic in Krasnodar

By Peter Hanson

Russia left it late, but captain Roman Shirokov's 89th-minute strike was enough to see off Portugal in Saturday's friendly in Krasnodar.

Captain Roman Shirokov scored the only goal of the game with a minute remaining to give Russia a deserved 1-0 friendly win over Portugal.

Russia peppered the Portugal goal throughout Saturday's friendly contest in Krasnodar, but was seemingly heading for a frustrating stalemate.

However, skipper Shirokov came up with the goods in the 89th minute when he sidefooted home from close range to finish a fine Russia move.

It was no less than Russia deserved and the scoreline could have had more gloss with Artyom Dzyuba hitting the crossbar in the opening period, while Shirokov missed great chances in either half.

Head coach Leonid Slutsky, who is combining the role with his CSKA Moscow duties, has now won five straight matches since replacing Fabio Capello form that saw Russia qualify for Euro 2016.

Portugal, which also qualified for the Euros, had won five of its last six but an experimental side lacking captain Cristiano Ronaldo created few clear-cut chances, with Goncalo Guedes going closest for the away side in the first half.

Before kickoff, the teams observed an impeccable minute's silence in honor of the victims of the attacks in Paris.

When play got underway Russia enjoyed the better of the opening 20 minutes with Dzyuba causing particular problems.

First the Zenit striker was denied by a great last-ditch tackle from Pepe when shaping to shoot from eight yards, before he saw a half-volley saved by the foot of Rui Patricio and then hit the bar with a thumping header.

Russia was denied again as Shirokov was played in on the right of the area, only for the captain's low drive across goal to be saved brilliantly by Patricio.

The hosts' wastefulness was almost punished when debutant Guedes glided through the Russia defense and struck a low shot from the edge of the box that Igor Akinfeev parried to safety.

Portugal was let off the hook shortly after the break, though.

Dzyuba's clever flick found Shirokov wide open in the area, but the midfielder stabbed his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Portugal brought on Ruben Neves and Lucas Joao for their international debuts in a bid to spark some momentum.

But it did little to alter the pattern of the game and Russia had the ball in the back of the net in the 74th minute, only for Fyodor Smolov's goal to be rightly ruled out for a deliberate handball that earned the substitute a yellow card.

However, the home fans were celebrating in the final minute. Smolov's ball from the left was touched into Shirokov's path and he passed the ball past Patricio., Nov 14, 2015

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Russia 1-0 Portugal
International Friendlies
November 14, 2015
Krasnodar. Stadion Kuban
Attendance: 30.000
Referee: M. Mazic (Serbia)
Russia: I. Akinfeev, O. Kuzmin (R. Shishkin, 45+2), A. Berezutski, S. Ignashevich, Y. Zhirkov, I. Denisov, A. Dzagoev, A. Samedov (F. Smolov, 66), R. Shirokov (c), P. Mamaev (V. Ignatyev, 77), A. Dzyuba.
Coach: Leonid Slutski
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Cedric Soares, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Eliseu, Andre Andre (Ruben Neves, 72), William Carvalho, Joao Mario (Rafa Silva, 90+1), Nani (c), oncalo Guedes (Ricardo Pereira, 82), Nelson Oliveira (Lucas Joao , 72).Coach: Fernando Santos
Goal: Shirokov (89)
Yellow cards: Smolov (75), Neves (80)

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