Advocaat enjoys winning start


SAINT PETERSBURG, August 12- Dick Advocaat enjoyed a winning start to his reign as Russia coach on Wednesday when an early goal from Roman Shirokov secured a 1-0 friendly win over Bulgaria.Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Shirokov grabbed his first international goal to give Russia a perfect boost ahead of their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign which starts at Andorra on September 3.

Advocaat said he was happy with the result, but added that he and his players still had work to do to improve their performance.

"It was very important for me to win my first match," said the Dutchman. "We created a few chances but also gave no chance to Bulgaria to score.

"We have some work to do to improve our playing but it’s not a big problem as the team showed they can play with great concentration. We won and it’s the most important thing about today’s match."

The game had been moved from Moscow because of the smog which has descended upon the capital, but the switch did not dampen Shirokov’s enthusiasm.

"I’m really pleased that my first goal for the national team secured our win," Shirokov said. "We netted an early opener and had several more chances later in the match. I believe we won deservedly."

Russia, who were playing their first match since March, when they recorded a 1-1 draw in a friendly at Hungary, and first since previous coach Guus Hiddink left for Turkey, were in front after six minutes.

Shirokov found the target with a close-range shot after Bulgaria goalkeeper Nikolai Mihailov failed to cut out a free-kick from Arsenal star Andrei Arshavin.

Bulgaria went looking for the equalizer and came close in the 34th minute with Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev saving Ivelin Popov’s close-range shot after being set-up by Martin Petrov’s left-wing cross.

In the 52nd minute, Arshavin fired a drive from just inside the box forcing Mihailov into a diving save.

Bulgaria than had another opportunity six minutes later when a right wing cross from Stanislav Manolin fell to substitute Martin Kamburov and then Dimitar Rangelov, but neither were able to get the vital touch.

Bulgaria begin their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign against England at Wembley on September 3.