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June 17, 2014
• Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso
Referee: N. Pitana
• Attendance: 37603
A. Kerzhakov 74'
Keun-Ho Lee 68'
Both Russia and South Korea will be pleased to have avoided defeat in their opening game. Belgium lead the way in Group H, having beaten Algeria earlier today. That's all from me - thanks for reading.
After a slow start, there was plenty of excitement in the second half. A comical howler from Akinfeev gave South Korea the lead, but Russia were well worth a point in the end, courtesy of an equaliser from substitute Kerzhakov.
90' + 4'
ONE LAST CHANCE FOR RUSSIA. Kokorin pulls the ball across the six-yard box, but with too much pace to cause any real problems. That's all folks!
90' + 3'
South Korea are hanging on a little, but Russia cannot find a way through. It looks as though both sides will have to settle for a point.
Yellow Card Koo Ja-Cheol
A looping header from the tireless Kokorin sails over after another fine ball from Kombarov. Kokorin then connects with a right-wing cross, but not cleanly enough. We will have four minutes of injury time and Russia are finishing the stronger.
Kerzhakov takes a tumble just outside the area, but there didn't look to be a foul there. The pace of the game has started to slow as the final whistle draws near. Will there be one last chance?
Kokorin almost gets in behind, but does not have the pace to evade the covering defender. Credit to Russia - they have been much improved since falling behind. But why did it take a South Korea goal to stir them into action?
Dzagoev has transformed Russia as an attacking force and drills a low shot a couple of yards wide of Jung's right-hand post. We have just over six minutes remaining as Kim Bo-Kyung replaces Son
Akinfeev touches the ball for the first time since his error, accepting a simple catch from a mis-directed cross. He will be mightily relieved that Russia have managed to draw level. Fabio Capello's men win a corner of their own, but the danger is cleared.
Much to the delight of the crowd, both sides are throwing men forward in search of a winner. Goalscorer Lee makes a fine run down the right channel for South Korea and earns a corner.
For a long time, this match was not providing a great deal of excitement. That definitely is not the case now. We have a cracking finish on our hands in Cuiaba!
Assist Andrey Eschenko
Goal Aleksandr Kerzhakov
KERZHAKOV STRIKES! RUSSIA ARE LEVEL! Russia's substitutes combine to great effect. The tricky Dzagoev wriggles his way into space before shooting from a tight angle. When his shot is parried away, the ball breaks to Kerzhakov, who shows his poacher's instincts by firing home on the turn!
We have two further changes. Hwang Seok-Ho replaces the injured Hong Jeong-Ho for South Korea, while Igor Denisov is on in place of Denis Glushakov.
It really is hard to overstate how poor the mistake from Akinfeev was. Lee's shot was straight at the goalkeeper, and not exactly a thunderbolt. Russia's number one looks devastated.
A chipped cross from the byline, courtesy of Kokorin, is cleared away as Russia search for an immediate response. Zhirkov is then withdrawn, with Kerzhakov thrown on. How must Akinfeev feel right now?
Assist Kook-Young Han
Goal Keun-Ho Lee
GOAL FOR SOUTH KOREA - and Akinfeev has had a shocker!! Goodness me! Substitute Lee Keun-Ho shoots from distance following a swift break, which looks to be the wrong option. The ball drifts towards Akinfeev, who somehow contrives to fumble the ball over the line. That really was a dreadful piece of goalkeeping.
Long-range efforts have generally been the order of the day in this game. Neither team has been able to get in behind their opponents with any regularity. A fine cross from Kombarov tests Jung, who makes a diving punch clear under pressure.
And now it is Jung's turn to make heavy work of a relatively simple save. Kombarov's left-footed shot is not the strongest, but South Korea's goalkeeper palms wide with a degree of discomfort.
South Korea win another free-kick in a dangerous position, following a foul on Yoon Suk-Young. Ki delivers from the left, but Hong Jeong-Ho cannot get any power on his header towards goal and Akinfeev is not troubled.
Now then, here comes Dzagoev. Maybe he can inject some life into Russia's performance. After threatening at the start of the half, they have been forced onto the back foot again. Oleg Shatov is the man to make way.
Ki is cynically brought down by Aleksandr Kokorin, giving South Korea a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Akinfeev is once again unconvincing as he spills Kim Young-Gwon's strike.
Hong Myung-Bo is the first coach to make a change, introducing Lee Keun-Ho in place of Park
A corner from Ki finds Lee Chung-Yong, who can only send a header ballooning over the crossbar. Dmitri Kombarov then appears to stand on a delicate part of Park Chu-Young's body as he makes a tackle, but the referee merely awards a free-kick.
Akinfeev spills a strike from Ki that bounced in front of him, but is able to gather the loose ball. South Korea have responded well to Russia's strong start after the interval
Koo Ja-Cheol is at the thick of the action again, forcing Akinfeev to beat away a swerving 25-yarder. We may already have seen more action in this half than in the first!
Yellow Card Oleg Shatov
Ignashevich shows good strength at the other end to deny Koo, before Shatov picks up a cheap yellow card.
And Russia are immediately on the front foot, with Viktor Faizulin's shot from distance bringing a rather unconvincing save from Jung. Berezutski then rises high to meet the resulting corner, but finds the side netting.
We are back under way in Cuiaba. Hopefully, goals are on the way!
I certainly would not be surprised to see Alan Dzagoev or Aleksandr Kerzhakov enter the fray if this game remains goalless for much longer. We will soon find out ...
South Korea certainly seemed to finish that half the stronger. Russia have not offered much at all as an attacking threat and may need to show more ambition.
45' + 1'
The referee brings the opening period to a close. We have had three goalless halves in succession at the World Cup following Brazil's earlier draw with Mexico. Surely someone can find the net when play resumes?
A spell of South Korea pressure ultimately comes to nothing as Russia hold firm. I wouldn't like to pick a winner at the moment. The first goal may well prove all important.
It is hot and humid in Cuiaba, which could mean spaces open up the longer this game goes on. With the interval fast approaching, South Korea win a corner following some resourceful work from Son.
Ah yes, this is much better now. Oleg Shatov gets into a good position down Russia's left, only to see his low cross cleared. Both teams are appearing more dangerous in the final third.
And now South Korea spurn another opportunity. Son Heung-Min finds himself in space on the edge of the penalty area, but shows a lack of composure when blazing his shot high and wide.
Belatedly, this match appears to be coming to life. Can either side find a way through before half-time? An aerial collision means Hong Jeong-Ho is in need of some treatment
SO CLOSE TO AN OPENER! Koo Ja-Cheol shoots at the other end and sees his effort deflect no more than a yard wide. Igor Akinfeev was left rooted to the spot as the ball changed direction and was grateful to see the ball pass his left-hand post.
A Russian counter-attack ends in underwhelming fashion as Yuri Zhirkov shanks a left-footed shot wide of Jung's near post. I'm not sure an attempt on goal was his best option there.
Sergei Ignashevich tries his luck from the resulting free-kick and forces a decent save from Jung with a driven 35-yard strike.
OUCH! Ki hurls himself into a challenge on Aleksandr Samedov. The South Korea midfielder receives a yellow card and both players require a quick once-over from their respective physios before continuing.
Yellow Card Ki Sung-Yueng
The corner is a poor one and punched away by Jung Sung-Ryong. Russia threaten again moments later, but South Korea's goalkeeper remains untroubled.
Crucially, Russia and South Korea may not be too disappointed should they emerge with a point. Belgium are the favourites to top Group H, but these teams may welcome the opportunity to get ahead of Algeria early on, after the African nation went down 2-1 to Belgium earlier today. Anyway, Russia have a corner on the right.
While both sides appear relatively comfortable in possesion, we have yet to witness a meaningful effort on goal in Cuiaba. This game could do with a spark ...
South Korea are content to be patient when they have the ball, often stringing several passes together between their defenders before getting the ball forward. Will this approach pay off, I wonder?
Russia are looking the more likely to break the deadlock at the moment, but the game remains goalless as we reach the 20-minute mark
Yellow Card Heung-Min Son
STAT ATTACK: South Korea have conceded the first goal in eight of their past nine World Cup matches.
It really deserved a better finish! Korea with a lightning quick counter-attack as the ball is lofted forward for Koo Ja-Cheol. He picks out Son Heung-Min who charges at the defence, cutting into space on his right, but fires his shot over the bar. That's encouraging though for South Korea, and something for Russia to be wary of!
Nearly through on goal! South Korea enjoy some possession in the final third, and Lee Chung-Yong sends a lovely ball between two defenders for Ki Sung-Yong, but it's just out of reach as it rolls behind for a goal kick.
Russia is just starting to take control a bit as they put some pressure on the Koreans. An errant throw is intercepted by Kim Young-Gwon, but he can't control it as it runs behind for a Russian corner.
The superb atmosphere inside the stadium has yet to translate onto the pitch. The midfield is quite crowded and compact, which has made things difficult for either team as they try and push forward.
It's a rather cagey start to the match as the players look to settle in and calm their nerves. Both teams try and pass it around, but aren't having much success at the moment with plenty of giveaways early on.
Russia kick-off and we're underway at the Arena Pantanal! The European side, moving left to right, are wearing their all red kits, while the Koreans are sporting all white.
The anthems sound with plenty of gunsto around the stadium. Both sides are well represented in the crowd on a lovely night in Cuiaba. The players shake hands and we're set to begin in just a few moments...
South Korea have a few surprises of their own, with Mainz defender Park Joo-Hoo starting on the bench, as is Cardiff City midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung. The Red Devils have plenty of pace on the wings in Swansea's Ki Sung-Yong and Mainz's Koo Ja-Cheol, as they will look to provide service to the dynamic strike duo of Park Chu-Young and Son Heung-Min.
That's right! Fabio Capello has opted for youth and form over experience, keeping Igor Denisov, Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov on the bench. Dynamo Moscow striker Aleksandr Kokorin will start up top and Russian fans will have high hopes for the 23-year-old who scored 10 goals, while adding 9 assists, in 22 matches this season. The six foot forward can be a real menace in and around the area, but tends to dissappear at times without good service. He will have to impress early with Russia's second all-time leading goalscorer Kerzhakov waiting in the wings.
SOUTH KOREA SUBS: Kim Chang-Soo, Kwak Tae-Hwi, Hwang Seok-Ho, Kim Bo-Kyung, Ha Dae-Sung, Lee Keun-Ho, Park Jong-Woo, Kim Shin-Wook, Ji Dong-Won, Kim Seung-Gyu, Park Joo-Ho, Lee Beom-Young.
SOUTH KOREA XI (4-4-2): Jung Sung-Ryong; Yong Lee, Kim Yong-Gwon, Hong Jeong-Ho, Yoon Suk-Young; Ki Sung-Yong, Han Kook-Young, Lee Chung-Yong, Koo Ja-Cheol; Park Chu-Young, Son Heung-Min.
RUSSIA SUBS: Kozlov, Schennikov, Semenov, Kannunikov, Denisov, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Lodygin, Granat, Mogilevets, Ryzhikov, Ionov.
RUSSIA XI (4-5-1): Akinfeev; Eshchenko, Ignashevich, Berezutskiy, Kombarov; Samedov, Fayzulin, Glushakov, Zhirkov, Shatov; Kokorin.
Now for the all-important team news...
On the other side of the pitch, South Korea have become regulars on the big stage, qualifying for their eighth consecutive World Cup. Despite their success in Asian qualifying, the Red Devils failed to make a big splash on the main stage, winning just two of their 19 matches, outside of their controversial semi-final appearance in 2002 when they hosted the tournament. They arrive in Brazil with arguably their best team to date, and will be hoping to prove their worth to the rest of the world when they kick-off group play tonight.
Russia are participating in just their third ever World Cup as an independent nation, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. They will be hoping for a bit more success this time around, having won just one match in each of their previous two appearances, both times exiting the competition without progressing past the group stage. This time around they have been drawn into a wide open Group H, where they will fancy their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages under the tutelage of Fabio Capello.
It has been a fun day of football thus far, and it's not over quite yet! Join me, Alex Moretto, as Russia and South Korea look to give their qualifying hopes a boost as they get set to do battle at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba. I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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