An 84th-minute penalty by Roman Shirokov was enough for Russia to maintain their 100 per cent record in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign as they finally managed to see off a dogged Azerbaijan in Moscow.
Russia had a perfect record after their opening three games in Group F, leaving them three points ahead of second-placed Portugal, and given Azerbaijan came into the match with just one point from two games a home win appeared to be a reasonable prediction.
However, the visitors proved determined opponents and despite almost total domination, Fabio Capello's side had to wait until six minutes from time to make the breakthrough.
Alexander Kerzhakov had already scored three times in qualification and he had the first real effort for Russia from the left which was comfortably held by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev.
Dmitri Kombarov curled a free-kick wide signalling the start of Russian domination and it was the same player who came closest to giving the hosts the lead after 25 minutes when his 20-yard shot was tipped over by Agayev.
Sergei Ignashevich headed over from the resulting corner before Russia were then thwarted by the woodwork as Kerzhakov's shot hit the post.
Russia were being frustrated by their visitors whose spoiling tactics were evident in the four yellow cards they were awarded in the first half.
Aleksandr Kokorin volleyed wide and Dennis Glushakov had two shots on goal in quick succession as Russia continued to lay siege to the Azerbaijan goal in the second half.
Agayev then parried Shikorov's close-range attempt and as time wore on a draw appeared a distinct possibility before the hosts were awarded a late penalty following a foul by Ali Gokdemir on Vladimir Bystrov.
Shirokov placed the resulting spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal as Russia finally breached the visitors' defence.