World Cup: Errors at either end saw Russia and Korea Republic share the spoils in Group H, with Igor Akinfeev gifting the Asian side the lead before Alexander Kerzhakov tapped in following a goal-mouth scramble to see it finish 1-1. The final pair of sides to take their bows at 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil provided unconvincing displays as both struggled to break the other down at the Arena Pantanal.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium for either team, who met for the first time in November during a 2-1 win for Russia, but Fabio Capello’s side looked keen to utilise the aerial ability of Alexander Kokorin early on. Jung Sungryong was called into his first real action though to palm away Sergey Ignashevich’s low, driven 35-yard free-kick.
At the other end, Akinfeev was purely a spectator when Taeguk Warriors captain Koo Jacheol’s effort deflected inches past the upright. A well-won header by Park Chuyoung saw Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heungmin get his clearest sight of goal all night, but lashed wildly over from the edge of the Russian area.
Straight after the break Vicor Fayzulin opted for a more direct approach – which became the theme of the second period – with his shot from range needing Sungryong to tip over. Jacheol was next to try his luck, stringing the palms of Akinfeev, before Ki Sungyeung followed suit.
The CSKA Moscow keeper was looking shaky as he fumbled Kim Younggwon’s free-kick, but managed to pounce in time as Han Kookyoung tried to sniff out a rebound. Sungryong was looking equally uncomfortable, as he helped another Fayzulin effort behind.
It was ultimately a goalkeeping error that saw Hong Myungbo’s side go in front, with substitute Lee Keunho attempting a speculative effort from outside the box, only to see it squirm through Akinfeev’s hands and over the line.
The scores were levelled in similar fashion at the other end minutes later. Two subs combined as Sungryong could only palm Alan Dzagoev’s shot into the path of Kerzhakov, who did not need asking twice from four yards out.
In the dying seconds Kokorin got in behind the Korean defence, but his cut-back across the box was put over by Alexander Samedov to see it end all square.