CUIABA, Brazil, (Reuters) – Veteran Alexander Kerzhakov scored three minutes after coming on as a substitute to rescue a 1-1 draw for Russia in their World Cup Group H opener against South Korea yesterday.
The 31-year-old, sole surviving member of Russia’s last World Cup team in the 2002 finals in Asia, swivelled and struck from inside the six-yard box in the 74th minute after fellow substitute Alan Dzagoev’s shot was parried by goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.
The South Koreans had taken the lead six minutes earlier when a blunder by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev handed substitute Lee Keun-ho a shock opening goal at the Pantanal arena.
The 2012 Asian Footballer of the Year unleashed a stinging shot from outside the box that the seasoned Akinfeev appeared to have under control but he let it slip from his grasp and over his shoulder into the net. The match was lifted from its torpor by the goal after a chess-like first half of ebb and flow but little danger to the goalkeepers in which young South Korea striker Son Heung-min put two chances well over the bar.
In the 10th minute, Yun Suk-young hit a long high ball down the left wing and Koo Ja-cheol headed it into the middle where Son took off on a fast diagonal run into the right side of the box where he shot too high.