By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Russia and South Korea drew 1-1 at tha Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá this evening as the final two countries got their World Cup campaigns underway. A terrible mistake by Russia goalkeeper Akinfeev gifted Korea the lead, before substitute Kerzhakov’s close range finish rescued a point for the Russians.
After a quiet first half, the match burst into life after the interval. Before the break, the game had become clogged down in midfield, a tussle that neither side was managing to get the better of.
It was a game of few genuine chances. Just after the half hour, Ignashevich’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong. Korea responded to Russian pressure, with forward Son Heung Min carving out a good chance for himself before blazing wildly over the bar.
The contest started to improve immediately after half-time. Berezutski went close for Russia less than a minute after the restart. Korea also had chances, with standout performer Min again proving threatening. His long-range drive was spilled by Akinfeev before the keeper quickly recovered himself.
The next time he fumbled the ball he was not to prove so lucky. Finding himself in space, Lee Keun Ho unleashed a swerving effort from distance. Akinfeev appeared to have the danger covered, before inexplicably spilling a routine catch into the back of his net. The 27-year-old looked distraught at such a basic error.
Yet Russia were not behind for long. Dzagoev tried a cross-shot which goalkeeper Ryong could only palm away. Kerzhakov was on hand to snaffle up the rebound and bring the scores level again. With the score at 1-1 the game unfortunately reverted to the first half protocol, ending in a scrappy midfield affair and a point apiece.
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