ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Alexsei Miranchuk's delightful left foot shot in first half injury time gave Russia a 1-0 win on Wednesday against Finland in St Petersburg to help them bounce back after an opening day defeat to Belgium.
Miranchuk didn't seem to have much space after receiving the ball in the closing moments of an intense first half, but needed very little backlift to curl the ball into the top corner of the net.
The Russians defended much better than they did against Belgium and could have had more goals against a rival that worked hard, but apart from a couple of moments failed to produce a decisive threat.
One of those moments was in the second minute when Finland thought they had taken the lead after Joel Pohjanpalo hurled himself full length to head Jukka Raitala's cross into the Russian goal, but the forward was fractionally offside and the goal was ruled out.
It was the sign for the first half to progress at a frantic pace, with the Russians having more of the ball, while Finland looked to threaten through Pukki and Pohjanpalo on the break as the Russians looked to get the ball forward quickly.
Russian defender Mario Fernandez had to be carried off with a neck injury midway through the half, with Karaev replacing him.
Good defending from Daniel O'Shaunghnessy denied Artem Dzyuba on the half hour, while Joona Toivio also got a great block in to deny Zobnin, who clattered into the post, but was able to continue after treatment.
The Russians were increasing the pressure and got their reward in injury time when Miranchuk linked with Dzyuba before curling in the winner.
Pukki was crowed out by Igor Diveev, who made a magnificent block when the Finland striker looked to be thought on goal, while at the other end Alexsandr Golovin flashed a shot going wide.
Rifat Zhemaletdinov went just wide for Russia as they looked to enlarge the advantages, before Lukas Hradecky was at full stretch to produce a stunning save to deny Daler Kuzyaev as the Russian left back found space at the end of the Finnish area.
Russia were controlling Finland without too many problems and on one of the few times Dzhikiya was beaten in the air as the ball looped onto the top of the net.