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Portugal go top as Postiga punishes Russia

Portugal 1-0 Russia
Hélder Postiga's 26th international strike earned the hosts a victory that moves them top of Group F, two points above Fabio Capello's side.

Portugal players rush to congratulate Hélder Postiga
Portugal players rush to congratulate Hélder Postiga ©AFP/Getty Images

Hélder Postiga's early goal earned Portugal a key victory against Russia in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F which moved them two points clear of Fabio Capello's men, who have two games in hand on the hosts.

A defeat would have been a huge blow to Paulo Bento's side, and they knew they had it all to lose in Lisbon. However, Postiga's 26th international strike kept their noses in front before a trip to Northern Ireland on 6 September, the same day Russia host Luxembourg after visiting Belfast in August.

Portugal tried to starve their opponents of possession early and got on the scoresheet when Miguel Veloso's free-kick was volleyed in by Real Zaragoza forward Postiga. It was the first time the Russian defence has been breached in 2014 World Cup qualifying.

First-half injuries hampered the visitors' chances of getting back into the game as Viktor Fayzulin and Aleksandr Anyukov were forced off within the opening 31 minutes. However, Capello's charges steadily worked their way into proceedings, and Aleksandr Kerzhakov almost equalised before the break, only for Rui Patrício to save well.

Portugal sat deeper in the second period, nullifying the opposition. On a rare foray forward, João Moutinho shot over the crossbar at the end of a dangerous move, while Cristiano Ronaldo was denied by Igor Akinfeev late on. The solitary goal was nevertheless enough to send Portugal top, two points better off than Russia and three superior to Israel, who also have a match in hand.