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Russia salvage a point after Akinfeev gaffe

AS AS 18/06/2014 Conrado Valle
Russia coach Fabio Capello (L) and Korea Republic coach Hong Myung-bo © DAVID GRAY Russia coach Fabio Capello (L) and Korea Republic coach Hong Myung-bo

Korea Republic found a new friend in Igor Akinfeev while the Russia keeper had to thank team mate Alexandr Kerzhakov, his guardian angel for alleviating his humiliation in Tuesday’s late-kick-off match in Cuiaba. The veteran rocker, the only member of Fabio Capello’s squad who has previous experience of playing in a World Cup, required just one minute on-field to make amends for the CSKA Moscow goalkeeper’s monumental gaffe. He let Lee Keun-Ho’s strike slip through butter fingers then haplessly helped the ball over the line. Korea Republic’s opener on 68 minutes instilled fear in Capello’s technical team. But the Italian moved quickly, bringing on Kerzhakov, whose late leveller leaves Group H the most open out of all of the qualifying sections after the first round of matches.

Capello trudged back to the dressing room with the face of a man with few friends – his usual expression, it’s fair to add. But this time, he had good reason to look worried. His Russia side looked unstable and lacking personality. South Korea, with tactical discipline, applied pressure on their rivals and looked the most likely to score first. They do have their limitations – particularly their execution in front of goal but judging by tonight’s performance, Hong Myung Bo’s troops are no flunkies – and by no means the underdogs in their group. They will emerge reinforced by this display, while Russia will continue to live on their wits – and Kerzhakov, which is no small thing.

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