Russia completed their FIFA World Cup preparations in fine fashion with a comfortable 2-0 win over Morocco on Friday.
Fabio Capello had called for his side to more clinical in the wake of their disappointing 1-1 draw against Norway last weekend.
And his players evidently heeded that request as they cruised to a comfortable victory against a Morocco team that rarely threatened at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow.
The hosts were again without injured captain Roman Shirokov, whose World Cup appears to be in serious doubt, but that did not prevent them from claiming victory with goals from Vasili Berezutski and Yuri Zhirkov.
And Capello may be left sweating on the fitness of Denis Glushakov, who was withdrawn from the squad and replaced in midfield by Igor Denisov after suffering an injury in the warm-up.
Russia will now travel to Brazil for the World Cup, where they are likely to face much tougher tests in Group H clashes with South Korea, Belgium and Algeria.
It took 23 minutes for the game’s opening chance to arrive, but that almost brought the first goal as Omar El Kaddouri struck the post with a low effort following neat build-up play from the visitors.
That scare seemed to spark Russia into life and they would have taken the lead had Aleksandr Kokorin been able to connect with Zhirkov’s deflected delivery across the face of goal.
But the deadlock was then broken in the 29th minute, the hosts going ahead when Berezutski smashed home at the second attempt from a corner following some pinball in the area.
Russia’s advantage would have been doubled a minute before half-time if not for the fine reflexes of Morocco goalkeeper Karim Fegrouche, who produced a fine stop to deny Kokorin on the half-volley.
However, Fegrouche could do nothing to prevent Russia from all but ensuring victory 13 minutes into the second half as Zhirkov found the net in spectacular fashion.
The Dinamo Moscow midfielder met a clearance from a corner with a fierce volley from just outside the area to put Capello’s men in complete command.
From there Russia were able to take their foot off the gas, although the hosts were given a scare when Morocco midfielder Mounir Obbadi drew a fine save from replacement keeper Yuri Lodigin.
But that proved to Morocco’s last clear-cut opportunity as Russia easily held on for a win that should give them confidence ahead of their World Cup opener against South Korea on June 17.
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