The World Cup’s final opening-round match waited until the final minutes before providing its best moments Tuesday night at Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá.
SUPER SUBS: Right after the opening goal for Lee in the 68th minute, whom South Korea head coach Hong Myung-Bo sent on in the 56th minute for Park Chu-Young, a move by Russia head coach Fabio Capello paid off when Kerzhakov blasted home a rebound off South Korea goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong in the 74th minute. Kerzhakov had just come on in the 71st minute for Yuri Zhirkov.
SHAKY AKINFEEV: Some of South Korea’s best chances at a goal – before they ultimately struck in the 68th minute – came on some questionable moments for Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. In the 52nd minute, a bouncing shot by Ki Sung-Yueng ricocheted off his chest before he was able to gobble it up. In the 58th minute, another bouncer on a Kim Young-Gwon free kick gave Akinfeev problems, but he was once again able to gather it in before South Korea were able to get to the rebound. Akinfeev’s problems finally came back to haunt Russia on Lee’s goal on a long blast that slipped through the CSKA Moscow captain’s hands.
LEGEND OF HONG: The South Korea manager, the star of South Korea’s 2002 semifinal World Cup team and former LA Galaxy standout, is leading what is believed to be his country’s best team since that tournament. A draw against Russia side playing without midfielder and captain Roman Shirokov is an inauspicious start for the Red Devils.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ki Sung-Yueng, South Korea. In a game with few standout performances, it was the young playmaking midfielder who created the most dangerous moments.