Yet again the Russian coach will be scratching his head and wondering just how his side failed to take one of the many chances which came their way.It was most definitely a case of two points dropped for Group B leaders Russia, as they somehow failed to prise open an Armenian side whom they dominated in a scoreless draw in Yerevan. The result means that Armenia net their first ever point against Russia.
Armenia began the brighter of the two sides but the opening stages were devoid of any goalmouth action. Igor Akinfeev was forced into his first real save of the afternoon when he tipped away a long-range effort from Brazilian born attacker Marcos Pizzelli. Thereafter, it was one-way traffic, with the home side coming under wave after wave of pressure.
In-form Zenit striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov found enough space on the right-hand side of the penalty area on 22 minutes but his strike was disappointingly directed straight at Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky. The 36-year old veteran stopper stood firm as the Russians began to turn the screw, parrying away a fiercely struck Yuri Zhirkov bullet from 25 yards.
Russia went close when, after a neat one-two with Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov drilled a low shot wide before Sergey Ignashevich then headed narrowly wide from a corner from Russian captain Andrey Arshavin. Shirokov was then thwarted twice in quick succession, first after a brave block from Hrayr Mkoyan and then by another smart Berezkovsky save.
After the break, the home side wasted a glorious chance six minutes into the second half. The industrious Yura Mosisyan was only able to direct his left-footed shot into the side netting from close range after he had eluded the presence of Akinfeev. Moments later, Kerzhakov blasted wide from a tight angle after receiving Alan Dzagoev's lay-off.
At times it looked as if Russia would leave themselves vulnerable to an Armenian counter-attack, but they continued to look the more likely side to score. Kerzhakov looked to be in on goal with twenty minutes remaining but he was eased off the ball by Armenia's captain Sargis Hovsepyan. Arshavin also went close on 79 minutes but he curled his shot the wrong side of the post.
Given the fact that Armenia were still very much in the game as it drew to a close, the home fans began to sense the possibility of an upset. However, Armenia's clear-cut chance never came and Shirokov spurned yet another opportunity to secure the three points when he fired over from long range with four minutes left.
Russia, who now have ten points, remain top of the group on goal difference from Slovakia. Armenia have no game until the return fixture in Moscow in June, while Russia play Qatar in a friendly on Tuesday.
Andorra 0-1 Slovakia
As expected, Slovakia took all three points against the group minnows Andorra. Slovakia took the lead after 20 minutes after profiting from some careless Andorran defending. The returning Robert Vittek was allowed to drill the ball across goal, where Filip Sebo tapped home from three yards. Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel wasted a glorious chance to double the lead on the hour when he could only find the side netting. The home side never really looked like equalising apart from a half-chance near the end and ultimately Vladimir Weiss' side held on for the victory, which lifts them into second spot in the group, level with Russia on ten points.