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Russia 1-0 Ghana: Smolov hands Black Stars defeat

By Evans Gyamera-Antwi

The Black Stars went down against the Golden Eagles in a friendly on Tuesday

Russia defeated Ghana 1-0 in an international friendly at the Stadion Lokmotiv on Tuesday to end a five-game winless streak.

The Black Stars travelled to Moscow a day after sharing the spoils 1-1 with Rwanda in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday.

Coach Avram Grant made seven changes to the squad that faced the Amavubi in Accra. Goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey returned to the starting XI for the first time since 2014, while Thomas Teye Partey, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Wakaso Mubarak, Christian Atsu and John Boye also debuted.

Russia, who are not participating in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers as hosts, began the game on high, causing lots of troubles for the Black Stars back-four but Kwarasey saved the visitors from early havoc.

After 20 minutes, Kuban Krasnodar striker Fyodor Smolov opened the scoring for the hosts, claiming a pass delivered by midfielder Alexandr Samedov and slotting his finish to the side of onrushing Kwarasey.

Ghana came close to levelling 15 minutes later when Atsu saw his curled effort crashing against the crossbar. Ayew was brought down moments later but the Azerbaijan referee Aliyar Agayev waved play on.

On the stroke of half-time, Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev thwarted a beautiful effort from Ayew that could have handed the Black Stars the equaliser. In a similar action on the other end, Alan Dzagoev narrowly missed the target to double his side's lead.

Russia kept pushing after the break but their efforts kept failing to yield, to the dismay of coach Stanislav Salamovich Cherchesov.

On 55th minute, Ghana defender Boye was lucky to not earn a straight red card when he needlessly kicked Dzagoev in the knees, who couldn't continue and was replaced by Aleksey Miranchuck.

Grant brought on Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu for Partey and the Udinese man immediately showed what Ghana lacked with 25 minutes remaining, adding speed and drive.

On 70th minute, Russia almost made it 2-0 following a howler by Kwarasey but a clearance by Boye saved his blushes.

Although, David Accam and Alfred Duncan came on for Acheampong and Wakaso respectively with ten minutes remaining, their presence visibly changed nothing.

The last goal opportunity fell to Atsu but the Newcastle United new signing's shot was blocked as the hosts held on to a 1-0 victory.

Goal.com, Sep 6, 2016

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Russia 1-0 Ghana
International Friendlies
September 6, 2016
Moscow, Lokomotiv Stadium
Attendance: 19400
Referee: . Agaev (Azerbaijan)
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Andrei Semyonov, Vasili Berezutski (c), Roman Shishkin, Sergei Petrov (Fyodor Kudryashov, 79), Yuri Zhirkov (Oleg Shatov, 82), Alexander Samedov (Maksim Kanunnikov, 70), Alan Dzagoev (Aleksey Miranchuk, 58), Yuri Gazinski (Magomed Ozdoyev, 64), Roman Zobnin, Fyodor Smolov (Dmitri Poloz, 88).
Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Ghana: Adam Kwarasey, Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah (c), Baba Rahman, Christian Atsu, Afriyie Acquah (Samuel Tetteh, 90), Wakaso Mubarak (Alfred Duncan, 79), Frank Acheampong (David Accam, 78), Teye Thomas (Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, 63), Jordan Ayew
Coach: Avram Grant (Israel)
Goal: Smolov (20)
Yellow cards: Boye (53), Zobnin (81)

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