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World Cup Qualifier Report: Russia 1 Ghana 0

Russia recorded their first win on the way to the 2018 World Cup as they beat Ghana 1-0 courtesy of a Fedor Smolov strike.

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A goal from Fedor Smolov saw Russia beat Ghana 1-0 in Tuesday's international friendly in Moscow.

The 2018 World Cup hosts endured a difficult Euro 2016 campaign as they failed to make it out of the group stages in France and consequently opted to replace national team coach Leonid Slutsky with Stanislav Cherchesov.

The 53-year-old saw Russia record a scoreless draw against Turkey in his first game in charge last week and they went one better versus Ghana.

Smolov opened the scoring halfway through the first half with a fine finish and the visitors failed to bounce back in the time remaining.

Russia made an encouraging start and could have opened the scoring after just seven minutes when Smolov lost his opponent inside the area, only to see his shot take a deflection off a Ghana defender as it went wide for a corner.

Smolov had more luck in the 20th minute, though, as he earned Russia the lead after a fine attack. The striker played in Aleksandr Samedov down the right, who immediately returned the ball to Smolov some 15 yards away from the goal and the Krasnodar star beat goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey with a low shot in the near corner.

Ghana were heavily reliant on Christian Atsu in the opening 45 minutes and it was no surprise the Newcastle player, on loan from Chelsea, was the one coming close to levelling the scoring shortly before the break, hitting the crossbar with a shot from the right side of the box.

The away side got another chance to restore parity early in the second half after Frank Acheampong escaped the offside trap, but the Anderlecht winger chipped just wide from a difficult angle.

Russia seemed content to sit somewhat deeper after the interval as they looked to hit Ghana on the counterattack in search of a second goal and Yuri Zhirkov aimed just wide after such a break, before Smolov somehow failed to find the net from just yards out with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Atsu had one final attempt to salvage a draw in the dying minutes of the game, only for Igor Akinfeev to keep his volley from close range out with a sublime save as Russia emerged victorious.

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