MOSCOW - Igor Semshov's goal helped Russia
beat Macedonia 1-0 in Euro 2012 qualifying on Friday to spoil
John Toshack's debut as coach of the small Balkan country.
"We have to be satisfied as it was a very tough game,"
Russia coach Dick Advocaat told reporters.
"We were quite nervous in the first half but played better
in the second. I'm very happy with the effort as well as the end
result," the Dutchman added.
Russia are top of Group B with 16 points from seven matches,
three ahead of both Ireland and Slovakia who were playing in
Dublin later on Friday.
Macedonia, who have no chance of qualifying, stayed second
from bottom on four points.
Semshov struck with the home side's first shot on goal four
minutes before the break following a fine solo run through the
defence by captain Andriy Arshavin.
The Dynamo Moscow midfielder wasted two early chances but
made amends when his low drive from the edge of the box
deflected off a defender and wrong-footed goalkeeper Martin
Just before that Macedonia captain Goran Pandev missed a
glorious chance when he was left unmarked in front of goal but
fired straight at keeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, who was replacing
the injured Igor Akinfeyev.
Malafeyev, who has not played in a competitive international
since a 3-0 defeat by England almost three years ago, looked
nervous as he was tested a number of times with long-range
Defender Goran Popov missed Macedonia's last chance in added
time when his 20-metre effort was blocked by Malafeyev.
The visitors suffered a further blow after the final whistle
when former Inter Milan striker Pandev, who had been booked in
the first half, was shown a red card for arguing with the
"I think we played well," said former Wales and Real Madrid
coach Toshack who took over at Macedonia last month, succeeding
the sacked Mirsad Jonuz.
"We should have had a penalty in the first half. It was a
turning point in the match as Russia scored right after that."
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