CUIABA, Brazil -- South Korea and Russia played to a cautious 1-1 draw in their World Cup opener Tuesday in Brazil.
Hours after Brazil and Mexico of Group A finished their game scoreless, South Korea’s Lee Keun-ho, a second-half substitute, and Russia’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored six minutes apart in the second half.
Both sides took a conservative approach in the first half, avoiding long balls and risky passes. But late into the second half, Korea increased its scoring attempts and Lee broke the stalemate at 68 minutes.
Lee Keun-ho (Yonhap)
The Russians equalized during a dramatic scramble soon after. After goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong saved an initial attempt, Kerzhakov bundled the ball home while Jung was still on the ground.
It was Russia’s first World Cup match in 12 years.
Korea has not lost an opening match since 1998, having won each of its openers in the past three World Cups.
Belgium toppled Algeria 2-1 earlier in the day to lead the group. It has three points, with Korea and Russia both on one point. The Fennec Foxes’ Sofiane Feghouli converted a penalty in the first half before Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne equalized in the second and Dries Mertens secured the win.
Korea returns to its base camp in Foz do Iguacu on Wednesday morning.
In the group’s second round, Korea and Algeria face off in Porto Alegre while Belgium and Russia go head to head in Rio de Janeiro on June 22. The third and final round commences on June 26.
By Elaine Ramirez, Korea Herald correspondent (firstname.lastname@example.org