South Korea vs. Russia Recap: 1-1 draw

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Russia and South Korea opened up their FIFA World Cup Group H round robin play in Cuiaba finishing in a 1-1 tie that saw two goalkeeping blunders allow the only two goals of the match. The Russians were missing their star player Roman Shirokov after he sustained a thigh injury in April and is missing the whole tournament. The Koreans came into the match having won all three of their previous World Cup openers, but on a bad run of form having dropped four of their five pre-tournament matches.

The early moments of the game happened mostly in the midfield, with both teams holding strong defensively and not giving too much space in their defensive third. Both teams’ attacks were questioned coming into the game, with Russian coach Fabio Capello deciding to start Aleksandr Kokorin instead of Aleksandr Karzhakov in the strikers role, but in the first 25 minutes of play the Russians failed to materialize any real attacking threat.

The Koreans were happy to sit back and absorbed pressure well. However on 31 minutes a Russian free kick from 40 yards out was struck extremely well by Sergei Ignashevich forcing Jung Sungryong, the Korean keeper, into a good save. Just two minutes thereafter, the Koreans came with an attack of their own but Koo Jacheol’s strike was deflected just wide of the post. In the 39th minute, Son Heung-min found himself in wide open space right on the edge of the Russian box but the Korean hit the ball well off target. As the second half came to a close, the game began opening up with both teams committing more players forward in an attempt to break the deadlock, but neither side was able to hit the mark and the players went into the locker room even at halftime.

The Russians came out of the locker room flying, with Victor Faizulin forcing the Korean keeper into a good save 40 seconds in to the second half. The ensuing corner also produced a good chance but Vasili Berezutski put his header into the side netting. The Koreans didn’t sit back either forcing Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to make two solid saves in two minutes. The game began to open up after the half but neither team could crack the opposition in the first hour of play.

But the Koreans caught a lucky break on 68 minutes when Russian goalie Akinfeev couldn’t handle a hot shot by Lee Keun-Ho and gave the Koreans the 1-0 lead. Their lead, however, didn’t last long. Only 6 minutes later, and after two Capello substitutions, Aleksandr Kerzhakov who was one of the subs, brought the Europeans level. The Russians controlled the rest of the game, and had a wonderful chance to win the game in the final minute, but were unable to find the winning goal and the two sides split the points. The Russians will face group favorites Belgium on June 22 and South Korea will play Algeria on the same day.

, latintimes.com

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