The substitute headed in the winner to continue his good form this season where he has netted 11 times for Zenit St Petersburg in 15 games.
Fabio Capello’s side dominated the first half with Aleksandr Kokorin’s shot from a tight angle parried by the keeper while Alan Dzagoev’s curling effort from long-range was saved.
But the visitors were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances of their own with Robert Mak firing straight at the keeper after finding himself through on goal while Vladimir Weiss’ deflected effort was tipped wide after a slalom run into the box.
The second-half was a drab affair with Russia looking to have run out of ideas.
Kokorin had a goal ruled out for offside with a neat first-time finish while Maksim Kanunnikov’s glancing header went wide.
The deadlock was broken on 82 minutes when Kanunnikov’s cross from the left was headed into the corner by Kerzhakov.
Slovakia were limited to long-range efforts with former Chelsea striker Miroslav Stoch’s curling shot saved by the keeper.
5’ - AMBITIOUS EFFORT! Faizulin tries his luck with a first-time shot from the edge of the box that goes well over.
11’ – CHANCE! Fantastic run by Weiss who beats two players before his deflected shot is tipped wide by the keeper.
18’ – DZAGOEV SHOT! Dzagoev has a low shot from outside the box which has some curl but is comfortable for the keeper.
27’ – KOKORIN SHOT! A good save from the keeper to parry Kokorin's shot from a tight angle.
28’ – SHATOV EFFORT! Shatov has space on the edge of the box but his curling effort is inches over the bar.
37’ – CHANCE! Mak brushes off his marker and is through on goal but his shot is straight at the keeper, what a chance.
43’ – FREE KICK! Nemec wins a free-kick on the edge of the box after Denisov trips him. Stoch steps up and his low effort is saved.
48’ – STOCH EFFORT! The former Chelsea striker tries a curling effort from the edge of the box but the keeper gathers comfortably.
57’ – DISALLOWED GOAL! Kokorin finds the net with a neat first-time finish but is flagged off-side.
63’ – CHANCE! Shatov makes a Paul Scholes-like run towards the edge of the box but slices his shot wide.
70’ – WASTED OPPORTUNITY! Kozlov's cross from the right is flicked wide by Kanunnikov from close range, he should have found the target from there.
82’ – GOAL! Russia 1-0 Slovakia. Kerzhakov heads into the bottom corner from close range, a good finish after Kanunnikov’s cross.
Russia are now undefeated at home in 19 games.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov is the only player in Russia’s squad to play in their last World Cup campaign in 2002.
The Slovakians have kept just four clean sheets in 16 games.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Oleg Shatov (Russia): The midfielder will be one of the Russian players to watch in Brazil. He cut in from the left side well and was the home side’s most creative player in the first half. Shatov made some good runs into the box but will be disappointed with his finishing.
Russia: Akinfev 5, Yeshchenko 5, Ignashevich 5, Berezutskiy 4, Samedov 4, Kombarov 6, Denisov 6, Shatov 8, Faizulin 7, Dzagoev 7, Kokorin 8. Subs: Lodygin 5, Kozlov 6, Ionov 5, Kannunikov 6, Kerzhakov 7.
Slovakia: Mucha 5, Durica 6, Pekarik 4, Hubocan 4, Stoch 7, Mak 6, Pecovsky 5, Weiss 6, Nemec 6, Kiss 6, Gyomber 5. Subs: Cikos 6, Salata 5 , Sestak 5, Sabo 5, Sylvestr 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Aleksandr Kerzhakov
- Aleksandr Kokorin