Bukharov saves the day for Rus­sia

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SOCHI: Alexan­der Bukharov scored a stop­page-time equaliser as World Cup hosts Rus­sia came from two goals down at half­time to hold Bel­gium to a 3-3 draw in a friendly in Sochi on Tues­day.

Rus­sia opened the scor­ing in the third minute through Vik­tor Vasin, but Kevin Mi­ral­las lev­elled for Bel­gium from the penalty spot and Chris­tian Ben­teke scored twice to give the vis­i­tors a com­mand­ing ad­van­tage at half­time.

Rus­sia pulled one back 15 min­utes from the end through sub­sti­tute Alek­sey Mi­ranchuk and then snatched a morale-boost­ing equaliser.

It was a much-im­proved per­for­mance from Rus­sia, whose re­cent re­sults were sound­ing in­creas­ingly loud alarm bells ahead of next year’s tour­na­ment.

Rus­sia were beaten 2-0 by Ivory Coast in Krasnodar on Fri­day but will draw some heart from Tues­day’s come­back, even if it was against an un­der­strength Bel­gium side with­out reg­u­lars like Thibaut Cour­tois, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Haz­ard and Romelu Lukaku, who made a cameo ap­pear­ance near the end.

Ben­teke proved an ad­e­quate re­place­ment in at­tack as he won the penalty that led to the equaliser, pow­er­ing his way into the Rus­sian penalty box be­fore Ro­man Neustadter brought him down.

Mi­ral­las hit a poor penalty but Rus­sian goal­keeper Igor Ak­in­feev dived right over the top of it.

Neustadter was also in­volved in the open­ing goal when he played a pass back into the dan­ger area from a poorly cleared free-kick for Vasin to tap home from close range.

Bel­gium went ahead in the 42nd minute from a corner as Neustadter cleared Jan Ver­tonghen’s goal-bound header straight at Ben­teke, who was left with a sim­ple fin­ish.

Ben­teke headed in an in-swing­ing free-kick from Nacer Chadli to hand Bel­gium a two-goal ad­van­tage on the stroke of half­time.

A host of sec­ond-half sub­sti­tu­tions took the mo­men­tum out of the game be­fore Rus­sia cap­i­talised on sloppy mid­field play by the vis­i­tors and quickly coun­tered.

Mi­ranchuk then played a onetwo with fel­low sub­sti­tute Bukharov be­fore steer­ing the ball into the net.

Bukharov then snatched a draw with an op­por­tunis­tic fin­ish just min­utes be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle. Reuters

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