World Cup: Kerzhakov comes off the bench to cancel out Akinfeev’s blunder


RUSSIA substitute Aleksandr Kerzhakov spared the blushes of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with a late goal to rescue a point in last night’s Group H clash.

Akinfeev, earning his 70th cap, inexplicably spilled Lee Keun-Ho’s speculative strike over the goal-line when a simple catch was required.

But former England manager Fabio Capello’s faith in 31-year-old striker Kerzhakov was repaid just moments after his introduction from the bench when he turned in the equaliser.

On a hot and humid night in Cuiaba, a tepid first half was notable only for a 30-yard free-kick blasted by Russia defender Sergei Ignashevich, which goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong parried away.

Akinfeev was twice made to look uncomfortable at the beginning of the second period when he failed to hold on to efforts from Ki Sung-Yeung and then Kim Young-Gwon, though was free to gather at the second attempt on both occasions with no South Korean players following up.

However, his unconvincing handling proved costly on 68 minutes when Lee’s shot crept in.

South Korea’s lead lasted only six minutes though. Alan Dzagoev’s initial effort was expertly saved by Jung and, when Korea failed to clear, Kerzhakov gathered the loose ball to restore parity.