Russia got their FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F campaign off to a winning start, as a goal in either half gave Fabio Capello's men a comfortable victory.
Taking charge of his first competitive game, everything went to plan for Capello as Viktor Fayzulin stroked in his first goal for Russia on the half-hour. Northern Ireland were unable to impose themselves on the game and Roman Shirokov secured the win from the spot with 12 minutes left.
The hosts had dictated from the off, with Aleksandr Kerzhakov quick to test Northern Ireland keeper Roy Carroll twice. The FC Zenit St Petersburg forward then fired just wide from outside the area, before a neat passing move created the goal for Fayzulin. Measured build-up allowed Alan Dzagoev to slip Kerzhakov clear in the right of the box, and his low cross was side-footed expertly into the roof of the net by his club-mate.
Moments later the lead was almost doubled, but Carroll saved sharply from Shirokov's low effort. Michael O'Neill's men were unable to gain a foothold, and their threat was limited to Gareth McAuley's header wide from Chris Brunt's corner.
It was more one-way traffic after the interval as Vasili Berezutski headed just wide, before Kerzhakov struck a post with a free-kick. The game was wrapped up after 78 minutes, Shirokov converting the penalty after Craig Cathcart had brought down substitute Aleksandr Kokorin.