- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia started its World Cup preparations with a 1-0 win over Slovakia in St. Petersburg on Monday

The match was a largely drab affair before Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov nodded in debutant Maxim Kannunikov’s cross on 82 minutes as the Slovakian defense failed to react.

Russia coach Fabio Capello picked a relatively conservative team in which the main absentee was injured captain Roman Shirokov, replaced in the starting line-up by playmaker Alan Dzagoev.

Besides winger Kannunikov, uncapped midfielder Pavel Mogilevets was a late substitute.

Playing at the World Cup for the first time in 12 years, Russia will take on South Korea, Belgium and Algeria in the group stage.

Russia’s other warm-ups are against Norway on Saturday and Morocco on June 5.