Substitute Anton Miranchuk gave Russia the lead shortly after halftime, pouncing on the rebound after Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hasan Hachim parried Alexander Sobolev’s shot from the right.
Sergei Pinyayev then scored his second goal, becoming the youngest Russian scorer in history at 18 years, 4 months and 24 days. The Lokomotiv Moscow striker took advantage of Iraq’s high defensive line, broke through on the left and hit a low shot into the goalkeeper’s right corner.
The hosts dominated possession of the ball, but they struggled to pull back in the first half, with Ayman Hussain and Ibrahim Bayesh missing good opportunities for the visitors.
Official attendance at the 68,000-seat Gazprom Arena was 23,818. The stadium was supposed to host last year’s Champions League final, but Russia was denied that honor.
In February 2022, UEFA and FIFA decided that all Russian teams – national and club – would be banned from the competition after the invasion.
Since Moscow launched its so-called special military operation in Ukraine, Russian players have played only four matches, all away from home. Last September, they won 2-1 in Kyrgyzstan and then drew with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran.
The hosts created several chances in the first half, with Russia’s best moment coming from Danil Fomin, who forced Hassan Hachim into a great save after 36 minutes.
But Iraq came closest to opening the scoring in a counterattack: Hussein shot from close range, and Bayesh’s shot from 20 meters left no chance for Sergei Pesyakov.
The Russian goalkeeper looked unsure, twice almost giving Iraq a goal due to inaccurate passes.
Miranchuk missed a chance to double the score in the 65th minute, and Sobolev’s header two minutes later hit the bar.
Mbappe scored 38 goals for France and ranks fifth overall in the country’s top scorers list, three fewer than former great Michel Platini and 15 fewer than all-time leader Olivier Giroud.
I am honored to be here beside him, but he is the next target I have to knock down as I continue my journey to the top, Mbappe, who is France’s new captain after Hugo Llaurice left the national team in January, said at a news conference Sunday.
Michel, however, is a legend and always will be. Нhether I beat him tomorrow or the next day, he remains Michel Platini.
Mbappe did the double at the Stade de France last Friday, when France defeated the Netherlands in seemingly routine but brutal fashion.
They have no intention of stopping there.
We want to show that we can be a great team, that’s the identity of this generation – the desire for greatness, many players have that, the 24-year-old Mbappe said.
The Paris Saint-Germain player, who almost single-handedly turned the tide in the World Cup final when France lost 2-0 to Argentina and then lost on penalties, believes Ireland will be a tough nut to crack at Aviva Stadium.
This game will not be as easy as it may seem, he warned.
Asked about 18-year-old Evan Ferguson, who scored his first international goal in last week’s 3-2 friendly against Latvia, Mbappe said: Let’s hope he’s calm. If he’s calm, then we’ve done a good job.
For that, France will rely on its pair of central defenders after Diote Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate proved their indestructibility last Friday.
They have played many games together, and there is always room for improvement over time, coach Didier Deschamps said when asked about the pair, who played together at RB Leipzig from 2017-21.
They are young players playing at the highest level of their clubs. They were there for the World Cup, even if Dayo played more than Konate. They have a lot of qualities and need to prove them before they can be compared to others.
On Monday, the Netherlands host Gibraltar in another Group B match.