Sunday 28 December 2014

Russia fight back to earn point against South Korea

Published 18/06/2014 | 01:09

Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov celebrates after scoring the equaliser against South Korea at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba. Reuters
Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov celebrates after scoring the equaliser against South Korea at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba. Reuters
Russia's coach Fabio Capello shouts during the match. Reuters
Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov celebrates his goal against South Korea during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba. Reuters
Russia's Oleg Shatov (17) fights for the ball with South Korea's Son Heung-min during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev fails to make a save as South Korea's Lee Keun-ho scores the opening goal. AP
CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 17: Lee Keun-Ho of South Korea (R) celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Russia and South Korea at Arena Pantanal on June 17, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Russia's Oleg Shatov (17) reacts after receiving a yellow card from referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina (L) during the 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match against South Korea at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev makes a save from a goal attempt by South Korea's Ki Sung-yueng during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
South Korea's Park Chu-young fights for the ball with Russia's Dmitry Kombarov during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
South Korea's Son Heung-min controls the ball during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match against Russia at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hanna (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov celebrates after scoring the equaliser against South Korea. Reuters
Russia's Victor Faizulin (L) and Dmitry Kombarov fight for the ball with South Korea's Park Chu-young during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba June 17, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray (BRAZIL - Tags: TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)

Igor Akinfeev produced the goalkeeping gaffe of the World Cup as Russia laboured to a 1-1 draw with South Korea in Cuiaba.

Russia 1 South Korea 1

The CSKA Moscow keeper capped an error-strewn performance by somehow allowing Lee Keun-ho's speculative effort to squirm through his grasp - an incident that will have given Russia's former England boss Fabio Capello flashbacks of Rob Green's mistake in 2010.

But Russia grabbed an important point in their opening Group H clash when substitute Alexandr Kerzhakov took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to join Vladimir Beschastnykh as his country's record goalscorer with 26.

In energy-sapping conditions the game began at strolling pace.

Son Heung-min was the first to inject some energy, bursting at the Russian defence and finding room only to blow it with a poor shot.

Viktor Fayzulin almost opened things up at the other end in the 21st minute, cutting inside from the wing and aiming for Alexander Samedov at the far post.

His cross ran just too long and the best Samedov could do was hook the ball back into the area, where the chance fizzled out.

With little else happening by the half-hour mark centre-half Sergei Ignashevich tried his luck with a 35-yard free-kick, with Jung Sung-ryong making an unconvincing parry.

Both sides created more in the 10 minutes before the interval but the deadlock remained.

Yuri Zhirkov wasted Russia's best break when his scuffed shot undid Alexander Kokorin's hard work, while Koo Ja-cheol's deflected effort snaked inches wide with Akinfeev rooted.

Russia started the second half with an early corner that Vasili Berezutski should have headed on target, but otherwise South Korea made the running.

Twice in the space of seven minutes they drew spills from the shaky Akinfeev, Ki Sung-yeung with the first sighter and Kim Young-gwon following suit from 25 yards.

On both occasions the goalkeeper fumbled the ball back into the danger area before smothering it ahead of the strikers.

The 28-year-old's luck ran out eventually when substitute Lee broke quickly and, having feigned to pass, instead shot from 25 yards.

Akinfeev was placed to make a simple save but made a woeful hash of it as he flapped it over the line before collapsing after it.

Capello responded by sending on Kerzhakov and within three minutes he had equalised.

Fellow substitute Alan Dzagoev provided the spark with an awkward strike that Jung could only palm into a crowded six-yard box.

A failed clearance saw the ball squirm loose, leaving Kerzhakov to convert a simple finish.

The game ended at its most open, both sides sniffing a late winner, but with a lack of cutting edge in either box, a point apiece represented a fair result.

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