Russia World Cup host beats Romania in historic Chechnya football friendly

The volatile Caucasian region played host to the national team for the very first time at the modern Akhmat Arena.

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Russia's head football coach Stanislav Cherchesov, seen in September 2016, saw his second win in five matches since taking over in August during the team's friendly with Romania November 15, 2016 play

Russia's head football coach Stanislav Cherchesov, seen in September 2016, saw his second win in five matches since taking over in August during the team's friendly with Romania November 15, 2016

(AFP/File)
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An injury-time goal by local hero Magomed Ozdoev gave 2018 World Cup hosts Russia a 1-0 win over Romania in a historic friendly in Chechen capital Grozny on Tuesday.

The volatile Caucasian region, where Moscow fought two brutal conflicts against separatists two decades ago, played host to the national team for the very first time at the modern Akhmat Arena home of Premier League side Terek Grozny.

It was Russia's second win in five matches since Stanislav Cherchesov took over as coach in August, the other coming against Ghana in September.

Cherchesov was appointed after the country's disastrous Euro 2016 campaign and faces a daunting task of rejuvenating the team for the World Cup on home soil, where he has set his men a target of reaching the semi-finals.

"Our winning goal wasn't accidental at all. The crowd spurred us on until the very end and it helped us to claim the win," Cherchesov said.

"I knew that the fierce crowd support would help us a great deal. We're all grateful to the Chechen people for the warm welcome."

He added: "We improved our performance in comaprison with our game in Qatar (where Russia lost 2-1 last Thursday). We played much more organised football today."

In front of a capacity crowd of 30,000, the hosts started brightly and only a good save by Costel Pantilimon of Watford prevented Alexander Samedov from opening the scoring.

Dinamo Bucharest midfielder Dorin Rotariu missed a fine chance for Romania before Samedov, of Lokomotiv Moscow, saw a well-struck free-kick flash just past the right post with the final chance of the first half.

The game looked to be heading towards a goalless conclusion when substitute Ozdoev, the Terek captain, struck in injury time, spinning to convert from close range after a Dmitry Poloz shot was deflected into his path in the six-yard box.

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