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International Friendly
  • Magomed Ozdoev (90'+3')

Magomed Ozdoev's late goal gives Russia win over Romania

Three days after being criticised by Vladimir Putin, Russia ended a run of poor form Tuesday by beating Romania 1-0 in a friendly in Grozny.

Magomed Ozdoev grabbed a last-minute winner for the 2018 World Cup hosts.

Russia had won just one of their past 10 matches, triggering the Russian president to remark that "we haven't seen beautiful play from the national team for a long time."

In the first international game to be played in the formerly war-torn Russian region of Chechnya, Russia struggled for much of the 90 minutes due to poor finishing and good saves from Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.

That all changed when Romania struggled to clear the ball in the final minute of stoppage time. Some fortunate deflections saw the ball fall to Ozdoev for an easy finish despite a possible offside.

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov is trying to inject new blood into a team which was among the oldest at the summer's European Championship, where they crashed out.

He opted on Tuesday for Spartak Moscow's up-and-coming Ilya Kutepov and Terek Grozny's Andrei Semyonov at centre-back. The partnership held up well though rarely came under sustained pressure from a Romanian team which also failed to qualify from the group stage in Euro 2016.

Pantilimon showed good reactions to keep out Alexander Samedov's effort for Russia early on, before Dorin Rotariu missed the target when one-on-one with Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev in Romania's best opportunity of the game.

Samedov shot wide just before half-time, and Russia came close again in the 65th minute when Alexander Kokorin mis-hit a shot straight at the advancing Pantilimon when a slight lob would have likely scored.

Russia were able to host Romania in Chechnya, which is ruled by sports-loving and pro-Kremlin strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, because it was a friendly rather than a competitive European game. UEFA has consistently refused to allow games to be played in Chechnya because of security concerns.

One team at the 2018 World Cup will be based in Grozny despite occasional incidents of unrest there, including an attack by militants in December 2014 which left more than 20 people dead.