MX23RW : Sunday, January 20 18:10:55
May 30, 2018 at 7.45pm UK
Attendance: 14,500
Austria
1-0
Russia
Schopf (28')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Result: Russia's winless run continues in buildup to World Cup

Result: Russia's winless run continues in Austria
© Offside
World Cup hosts Russia fall to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Austria in Innsbruck to extend their winless run to six games with just 15 days to go until the tournament.

World Cup hosts Russia have suffered a third consecutive defeat courtesy of a 1-0 loss at the hands of Austria in their penultimate game before this summer's tournament gets underway.

Just 15 days prior to their opening World Cup match against Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia put in a perfunctory performance in Innsbruck as Alessandro Schopf's first-half goal proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Russia are now winless in their last six games stretching back to October and have lost three in a row for the first time since 1998 heading into their final World Cup warm-up friendly against Turkey in Moscow next Tuesday.

By contrast, Austria - who will not be at this summer's tournament - have now won six games in a row and kept three clean sheets on the bounce for the first time since 1997, including four wins from four under manager Franco Foda.

The match got off to a slow start as both sides struggled to get into any sort of rhythm in the opening stages, and the best sights of goal during the first 25 minutes came from range as Peter Zulj and Alexander Samedov both missed the target at either end of the field.

Austria did begin to take control of proceedings around the quarter-hour mark, though, and it was no surprise when they capitalised on their growing momentum by opening the scoring in the 28th minute.

It was also no surprise that Marko Arnautovic was heavily involved, with the lively West Ham United forward latching on to a through-ball down the right flank before cutting back inside and teeing up Schopf, who just beat Zulj to the ball and swept a fine finish past Igor Akinfeev.

The signs were worrying for Russia so close to their World Cup bow, but the visitors did threaten an equaliser with a rare break forward when Fyodor Smolov's rising snapshot flew over the crossbar.

Austria immediately responded with a chance of their own, though, with Schopf almost doubling his personal tally as well as his side's advantage when he cut inside before passing his finish narrowly wide of the far post.

Arnautovic was the home side's most dangerous player throughout the first half, though, and he almost got his own name on the scoresheet just before the interval with a low free kick which Akinfeev needed to turn behind for a corner.

Any Russian hopes that their recent poor form was more down to the quality of their opposition - the likes of Argentina, Spain, Brazil and France in their last four outings - than their own performances seemed to have been dispelled during their disappointing first-half display, but things did improve for the World Cup hosts after the interval.

Indeed, they almost levelled things up eight minutes after the restart when Samedov's teasing delivery left the Austrian defence helpless, but Fyodor Kudryashov was inches away from connecting with it at the back post.

Akinfeev was still the busier of the two goalkeepers, parrying away a goalbound Zulj effort just before the hour mark, but Russia should have at least tested Heinz Lindner seconds later when Smolov collected the ball in space on the edge of the box, only to put his finish wide of the target.

That proved to be Russia's best chance as a string of substitutes in the second half upset the rhythm of the game, although one of those was Bayern Munich full-back David Alaba, who tested Akinfeev with a bobbling effort from outside the area.

Ambitious strikes from Austria's two star men Arnautovic and Alaba flew off target in the final 20 minutes, but Russia could not conjure up any notable openings of their own in the closing stages as they went down with something of a whimper.

The next landmark on the road to the World Cup will see Russia cut their squad down to 23 on Monday, before taking on Turkey one day later and kicking off the tournament nine days after that on June 14.

AUSTRIA (4-2-3-1): Lindner; Lainer, Dragovic, Prodl, Hintergger; Baumgartlinger (Grillitsch 46'), Zulj (Ilsanker 80'), Kainz (Schlager 72'), Schaub (Burgstaller 46'), Schopf (Alaba 58'); Arnautovic (Alar 83')

RUSSIA (4-1-4-1): Akinfeev; Fernandes (Smolnikov 68'), Ignashevich, Granat, Kudryashov; Zobnin; Samedov (An Miranchuk 63'), Kuzyaev (Dzagoev 56'), Golovin (Al Miranchuk 76'), Zhirkov (Cheryshev 64'); Smolov (Dzyuba 72')

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool23193154134160
2Manchester CityMan City23182362174556
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs23170648232551
4Chelsea23145440192147
5Arsenal23135548321644
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd23135546331344
7Watford239683232033
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves239592731-432
9Leicester CityLeicester2394102929031
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2394103034-431
11Everton238693433130
12Bournemouth2393113342-930
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2375112532-726
14Crystal Palace2364132332-922
15Southampton2357112540-1522
16Burnley2364132343-2022
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2356121931-1221
18Cardiff CityCardiff2354141944-2519
19Fulham2335152151-3014
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2325161340-2711

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