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Capello off to winning start as Russia beat N.Ireland

Russia's Igor Denisov, right, battles for the ball with Northern Ireland's Corry Evans during their Group F World Cup qualifying soccer match between Russia and Northern Ireland in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.

Misha Japaridze/AP

Goals by Viktor Faizulin and Roman Shirokov gave Fabio Capello's Russia a winning start in their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Group F on Friday.

Faizulin, appearing in only his second international after making his debut in last month's friendly against Ivory Coast, put the home side ahead with a fine strike on the half-hour in Italian coach Capello's first competitive match in charge.

Russia dominated the match but only stretched their lead when Shirokov calmly slotted home a penalty in the 78th minute to wrap up the points for the home side after defender Craig Cathcart was harshly judged to have pushed Alexander Kokorin.

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The visitors, ranked 116 positions below 13th-placed Russia by FIFA, rarely got out of their half and had only one effort on goal - a Gareth McAuley header that was cleared off the line.

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