sport

Russia spare Akinfeev blushes

Russia recovered from an astonishing goalkeeping blunder by Igor Akinfeev to draw 1-1 with South Korea in their World Cup Group H clash in Cuiaba.

Akinfeev inexplicably fumbled a routine long-range effort from substitute Lee Keun-ho into his own net in the 68th minute of a previously drab contest in the final game of the opening round of matches of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

But the nation who will host the 2018 showpiece responded swiftly and another substitute, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who had been sent on just moments earlier by former England boss Fabio Capello, was in the right place to turn home a loose ball in the box with 16 minutes to go.

The first opportunity at the Arena Pantanal came in the 11th minute when Son Heung-min received the ball from a glorious pass out of defence, advanced to the edge of the box, but fired over the bar with his team-mates well placed.

Russia were struggling to create any meaningful opportunities and in the 21st minute Viktor Fayzulin played a great ball across the box to the far post, but Aleksandr Kokorin could only divert the pass back across goal.

Ki Sung-yeung went into the book for a rash challenge which sent Alexander Samedov cartwheeling into the air, with Sergei Ignashevich drilling the resulting 35-yard free-kick goalwards and forcing Jung Sung-ryong into a sprawling save.

Koo Ja-cheol was inches away from breaking the deadlock when his shot from outside the box struck the retreating Ignashevich and flew inches wide of the post with Akinfeev rooted to the spot on his line.

Son then had another chance as half-time approached but blazed horribly off target from a good position on the edge of the box after being played into space by a neat header from Park.

Capello had clearly made his feelings known at the break with Russia starting the second period strongly as Victor Fayzulin's shot was flapped away by Jung, before captain Vasily Berezutskiy flashed a header from the resulting corner into the side-netting.

South Korea responded and Koo forced Akinfeev to claw away his long-range effort, with the goalkeeper then pushing away Ki's shot from an angle and getting to his feet in time to gather the loose ball with attackers closing in.

Akinfeev was unable to hold a routine bouncing free-kick from Kim Young-gwon but again recovered in time to prevent Han Kook-young from converting the loose ball.

Jung had similar difficulty with a low strike from Dmitry Kombarov which skipped up off the turf in front of him, although he redeemed himself to an extent as he fisted away an excellent curling cross from the same player soon after.

The increasingly questionable goalkeeping reached a nadir in the 68th minute when substitute Lee advanced on goal and fired in a long-range shot which Akinfeev inexplicably fumbled over the line and into his own net.

But Russia hit back swiftly when Kherzhakov was in the right place to keep a cool head and turn the ball home after Jung made a fine save from Alan Dzagoev before a fortunate rebound off Andrey Eschenko sent the ball into the path of the substitute.