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Russia beats Portugal 1-0 in World Cup qualifying

Associated Press Modified: October 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm •  Published: October 12, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) — Alexander Kerzhakov scored early in the first half to give Russia a 1-0 win over Portugal in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.

The Zenit St. Petersburg striker scored with a low shot past diving goalkeeper Rui Patricio six minutes into the game from a Roman Shirokov cross.

It was Russia's only shot on goal in the first half. Portugal dominated possession for the rest of the match but failed to score.

Portugal had its first chance to equalize in the 15th minute but goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev blocked Bruno Alves' header from a corner kick.

Portugal was then forced into an early substitution when Miguel Lopes came on for the injured Fabio Coentrao.

The visitors' star forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, who had overcome a shoulder injury to play in the game, never came close in the first half though Nani constantly threatened the Russian defense on the right flank.

The Manchester United midfielder had his first attempt on goal in the 28th but shot over the bar.

Three minutes later Helder Postiga fired from inside the box but his shot was also too high.

Russia could have doubled the lead on a counterattack but Kerzhakov's cross from the right sailed over the far corner of the net in the 33rd.

Nani and Postiga each had a chance later but Akinfeev blocked their shots.

Ronaldo also fired a free kick right into Akinfeev hands at the end of the first half.

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