Smolov penalty maintans Russia's perfection

Albania 0-1 Russia
Russia maintained their flawless record in Group 6 as Fedor Smolov scored a second-half penalty to down a spirited Albania.

Goalscorer Fedor Smolov takes on Albania's Elvis Prençi in Russia's 1-0 win
Goalscorer Fedor Smolov takes on Albania's Elvis Prençi in Russia's 1-0 win ©Evgeny Mokrousov/Sportarchiv

Russia cemented their place at the head of UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 6 and maintained their perfect qualifying record thanks to Fedor Smolov's second-half penalty.

The FC Dinamo Moskva forward kept his nerve to beat Stivi Frasheri from the spot with 16 minutes remaining after Turkey substitute Dorian Kerciku brought down captain Pavel Yakovlev. The win makes it four from four and moves Russia five points clear of second-placed Poland at the halfway stage of qualifying.

Without top-scorer Aleksandr Kokorin, who has five goals to his name so far, Nikolai Pisarev's side struggled to create and it was Albania who threatened first. The dangerous Armando Sadiku forced Nikolai Zabolotni into a fine save from 20 metres as he looked to add to his four qualifying goals. Yakovlev fired off target before the break, and KS Elbasani man Sadiku slalomed through the Russian defence only to shoot wide after the restart.

However, KH Tirana midfielder Kerciku offended in the box shortly after replacing Fabio Hoxha and the 21-year-old Smolov won it from the spot. FC Spartak Moskva stopper Zabolotni had to be on fine form late on to ensure his side's record remained unblemished.