Bilyaletdinov double but Slovenia strike late
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (R) and Miso Brecko.
Substitute Nejc Pecnik's late goal gave Slovenia a lifeline
in their World Cup qualifying play-off against Russia.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's brace seemed to have put the home side in commanding
but Pecnik - only introduced in the 83rd minute in place of Andraz Kirm
- pounced two minutes from time for a potentially crucial away goal.
A capacity crowd of 80,000 - which included Russian president Vladimir
Putin - had been issued with protective masks to guard against swine flu
in the Luzhniki Stadium.
Slovenia threatened early on as Milivoje Novakovic pulled the ball back
from the left but Valter Birsa's shot was deflected wide by Yuri Zhirkov.
Zhirkov - included despite an injury-hit start to his Chelsea career -
then set off from his own half and tricked his way into the heart of the
Slovenia penalty area, but his shot was repelled by the feet of goalkeeper
Marko Suler's precise lofted pass then put Zlatko Dedic in behind the
home defence. He was forced wide by Igor Akinfeev, though, and his weak
shot went through the goalkeeper's legs but wide of the near post.
Sergei Ignashevich's fierce low drive from a 30-yard free-kick saw Handanovic
again save with his legs. Ignashevich made an important challenge as Dedic
looked to break before Russia conjured an excellent 41st-minute opener.
Roman Pavlyuchenko's neat pass with the outside of his foot found Bilyaletdinov
on the edge of the box and the Everton midfielder beat centre-halves Suler
and Bostjan Cesar with a superb drag-back before finishing powerfully
with his weaker right foot.
Russia's Andrey Arshavin was booked in first-half injury-time for a petulant
slap in the chest of Slovenia full-back Miso Brecko, who went down theatrically.
Two Zhirkov crosses saw Arshavin head wide before Pavlyuchenko's weak
effort was blocked by Cesar. Handanovic then tipped over another Ignashevich
rocket but Russia went 2-0 up in the 52nd minute. Bilyaletdinov got in
the way of Arshavin's cross - meant for Sergey Semak - but finished calmly
when the ball ricocheted back to him off Konstantin Zyryanov.
Vasili Berezutskiy made a strong tackle to halt Dedic's threatening run
and Handanovic unconvincingly saved Pavlyuchenko's fine angled drive at
his near post.
Suler was up well to cut out Bilyaletdinov's teasing through-ball and
Pavlyuchenko had a diving header held by Handanovic.
Bystrov lobbed wastefully over the bar after being adjudged narrowly onside,
before Russia had a let-off as Suler seemed to be impeded when jumping
for a corner at the near post.
Bilyaletdinov went close to his hat-trick as a late header flashed wide
and Pecnik shot wide after Novakovic's mishit volley bounced to him. But
the substitute was on hand a minute later to head home from close range
after Akinfeev tipped away Robert Koren's shot, Slovenia's first on target
in the 90 minutes.
And Suler could have equalised in stoppage time, popping up unmarked at
the back post to force a superb diving save from Akinfeev.
Semak: Mixed feelings
Russia midfielder Sergei Semak admitted Slovenia's late goal in their
World Cup qualifying first leg play-off left him uneasy ahead of the return
"The match left me with mixed feelings,'' Semak told RIA Novosti.
"On the one hand, I'm pleased we won, but on the other hand, the
way the game ended doesn't leave you at ease in the run-up for the next
match. They didn't surprise us because it was obvious that they came here
with the aim of not allowing a goal. Only after we scored the second goal
did they go all out.''
Goalscorer Bilyaletdinov opted to let his football do the talking, offering
only the assertion that: "All commentaries will be after the second
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek was relieved after Pecnik's contribution, and
told the Slovenian FA's official website: "We have found a goal that
keeps us in the game. In the first half we gave away a stupid goal, and
we also started badly in the second half when (keeper Samir) Handanovic
kept out some dangerous moves from the Russian team.''
Kek is hopeful for Wednesday's clash in front of his nation's own fans,
and continued: "The People's Stadium can create a positive outcome.
We must recover and prepare for the return meeting.''
November 14, 2009
Russia 2 - 1 Slovenia
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (40), Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (51), Nejc Pecnik (88)
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Match Time: November 14, 2009, 16:00 UK
Official(s): Klaus Larsen (Referee)
|1 Igor Akinfeev
||1 Samir Handanovic
|4 Sergei Ignashevich
||5 Bostjan Cesar
|5 Vasili Berezutsky
||2 Miso Brecko
|2 Aleksandr Aniukov
||4 Marko Suler
|18 Yuri Zhirkov
||13 Bojan Jokic
|17 Konstatin Zurianov
||18 Aleksandar Radosavljevic
|11 Sergei Semak
||8 Robert Koren
|6 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
||17 Andraz Kirm
|7 Igor Denisov
||14 Zlatko Dedic
|10 Andrei Arshavin
||10 Valter Birsa
|9 Roman Pavlyuchenko
||11 Milivoje Novakovic
|12 Vladimir Gabulov
||Jasmin Handanovic 12
|3 Denis Kolodin
||Branko Ilic 6
|13 Renat Yanbaev
||Andrej Komac 3
|8 Igor Semshov
||Dalibor Stevanovic 16
|15 Vladimir Bystrov
||Nejc Pecnik 7
|14 Dmitri Sychev
||Rene Krhin 15
|16 Alexander Kerzhakov
||Zlatan Ljubijankic 9
|Alexander Kerzhakov for Sergei Semak (61)
|Zlatan Ljubijankic for Zlatko Dedic (67)
||Dalibor Stevanovic for Valter Birsa (77)
||Rene Krhin for Zlatan Ljubijankic (80)
||Nejc Pecnik for Andraz Kirm (82)
|Andrei Arshavin (45)
|Dmitri Sychev (82)