London, March 26 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Fred’s 90th minute equaliser earned Brazil a 1-1 friendly draw against Russia at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.
Russia extended their undefeated record under Fabio Capello to eight games Monday but fell short of their first win in six meetings with Brazil while Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men have now not won in five games.
The equaliser came from a flowing team move – Hulk found Marcelo in the box and the Real Madrid man pulled back a cross for Fred to score as Russia’s defence remained static.
Earlier, Viktor Faizulin scored from near the penalty spot amid a goal-mouth scramble in the 73rd minute. Russia moved the ball around the box confounding the Brazilians’ attempts to clear and saw two earlier goal bound shots blocked in the same passage of play.
“I prefer to talk about the game of the team, which played well, compactly. It’s very important that the team showed team spirit which is necessary to move forward,” Capello said.
Brazil’s lack of team cohesion may pose a problem for Scolari, under pressure to win next year’s home World Cup. One worry for Capello could be a late injury to Anzhi Makhachkala wing-back and Russia regular Yuri Zhirkov, who appeared to have pick up a thigh strain late in the game.
“I substituted him because of an injury,” the Italian said of Zhirkov, without specifying the nature of the problem.
Brazil were lethargic for the first 15 minutes, only spluttering into life once Russia had enjoyed some good opportunities. Zenit St. Petersburg teammates Roman Shirokov and Alexander Kerzhakov both chalked up notable misses in the early stages, as Shirokov’s slow reactions prevented him connecting with a promising cross while Kerzhakov’s record of poor finishing at international level continued.
Once Brazil found their way into the game their sharp crosses tested the Russian defence. In the 20th minute, Neymar chested down a pinpoint David Luiz cross but was unable to finish.
Russia had another good chance shortly before half time when Kerzhakov and Faizulin combined in a fast, flowing move but Faizulin lashed his shot wide.
The second half was largely anonymous until Russia’s goal. After it, Marcelo came close to equalising when he fired wide off a layoff pass from Zenit’s Hulk, the only member of the Brazil squad to ply his trade in Russia.
Russia pushed for a winner in stoppage time but stand-in captain Shirokov skied the ball over off a Kerzhakov cross in the last attack of the game.
Russia’s next scheduled game is a World Cup qualifier away in Portugal in June although a replacement date has yet to be set for another qualifier against Northern Ireland that was cancelled Friday due to bad weather in Belfast.
Brazil face Bolivia away next month as they continue a so-called ‘global tour’ of friendlies ahead of hosting next year’s World Cup.