Fabio Capello’s Russia scraped a 1-1 draw with South Korea after Igor Akinfeev’s astonishing howler.
Russia finally began their World Cup campaign against South Korea, but lost captain Roman Shirokov for the tournament due to a back injury. This game arrived the day before Coach Fabio Capello’s 68th birthday. The Koreans kept faith with goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong despite some poor performances in recent friendlies, having lost four out of five.
Son Heung Min wasted an early counter-attack by blasting over, while Alexander Samedov was at full stretch and couldn’t quite control a smart Dmitry Kombarov cross at the back post.
Jung Sung-Ryong beat away a long-range Sergey Ignashevich free kick and Yury Zhirkov blasted wide on the counter.
Koo Ja-Cheol caused a stir with an effort that was deflected just off target, but Son Heung-Min wasted horribly by ballooning over after good work from Park Chu-Young.
Capello must’ve got the hairdryer treatment out at half-time, because Russia came out with a very different attitude. Within 70 seconds Victor Fayzulin had forced Jung Sung-Ryong to palm out from under the bar, then Vasily Berezutskiy nodded the resulting corner on to the side-netting.
Korea also woke up, as Igor Akinfeev had his gloves stung by long-range efforts from Koo Ja-Cheol and Ki Sung-Yeung.
Akinfeev was shaky again when parrying a free kick from Hong Jeong-Ho and the Korean shot-stopper did the same on Eshchenko.
The Russian goalkeeper had been threatening a howler and it finally arrived, as he fumbled a long-range Lee Keun-Ho strike into his own net. It was a disastrous moment for Akinfeev, who essentially punched it over his head and failed in a desperate scramble to get it back under control.
However, Capello’s men equalised soon after with another less than top quality goal. An Alan Dzagoev angled drive was beaten away, ping-ponged around the six-yard box until substitute Alexander Kerzhakov eventually bundled it over the line.
Alexander Kokorin couldn’t keep his header down and Samedov blasted over from a promising position.
Russia 1-1 South Korea
Scorers: Lee Keun-Ho 68 (K), Kerzhakov 74 (R)
Russia: Akinfeev; Eshchenko, Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, Kombarov; Shatov (Dzagoev 59), Glushakov (Denisov 72), Fayzulin; Zhirkov (Kerzhakov 71), Kokorin, Samedov
South Korea: Jung Sung-Ryong; Lee Yong, Hong Jeong-Ho (Hwang Seok-Ho 73), Kim Young-Gwon, Yun Suk-Young; Han Kook-Young, Ki Sung-Yeung; Lee Chung-Yong, Koo Ja-Cheol, Son Heung-Min (Kim Bo-Kyoung 83), Park Chu-Young (Lee Keun-Ho 56)
Ref: Pitana (ARG)