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Russia Fall Khalatbari Strike Sinks The Sbornaya

Russia failed to make the most of their chances and paid the price in the final minute in Abu Dhabi...

By Andrew McLean

Russia succumbed to their second consecutive defeat in friendly fixtures losing 1-0 to Iran in Abu Dhabi. Team Melli kept the European stars quiet throughout the game and Dick Advocaat's men failed to hit the target with the chances that were presented to them.

Russia were out to prove a point after a disappointing defeat on home soil against Belgium last time out in a friendly and for many of the players this was a serious pre-season warm up.

However, Iran were persistent from back to front and got their reward in the final minute of normal-time with Mohammad Reza Khalatbari finishing past Igor Akinfeev from close range. The forward received his second yellow card for his celebration but his side saw out the final few minutes for a memorable victory.

Dick Advocaat played a fairly strong XI using the partnership between Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyryanov at club level as the base of the squad in the middle of the park.

The Sbornaya, in bright red, started well with Vladimir Bystrov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov causing problems for Iran. A nice pass from captain Andrei Arshavin released Kerzhakov inside the box but the Zenit striker slightly rushed his shot and blazed the ball over the upright.

Russia were almost caught out in defence down the left, two-on-one at the back with more support arriving for Iran, but a loose pass was poked away Dmitri Torbinsky to prevent an early chance.

Revenge was almost immediate as chance after chance piled up for the Reds. A nice move involving Torbinsky and Zyryanov saw the latter fire a shot palmed out to Bystrov, but heroic defending by Hadi Aghily blocked out the winger's attempt when he looked odds on to score.

Russia made a host of changes at half-time removing Alexei Berezutsky to go with three in defence but came close to making a horrible start to the second period as Krosro Heydari skipped round one and flighted a cross over which missed every static forward and defender in the area.

Arash Afshin then came close with a drilled effort which had Akinfeev beaten, but ended up the wrong side of the post.

The Europeans were starting to settle into their new system and with just over an hour played Diniyar Bilyaletdinov stung the hands of Rahmati from twenty-yards but Iran were still finding space to attack.

As time ticked away in the UAE, the game lacked movement and invention from both sides, with Arshavin disappointing in a central role behind the lone striker, and Russia were made to pay.

With the match in the final minute Mohammad Reza Khalatbari collected the ball on the left of the box, twisted and cut inside three defenders before lashing a shot high into the net. The Iran forward removed his shirt in jubilation and was shown a second yellow card.

However, Iran saw out the final minutes of the game to give Advocaat a headache and the Persian Stars a real boost., February 9, 2011

Iran - Russia - 1:0 (0:0)

February 9, 2011
International Friendlies
Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium - Madinat Zaid
Referee: Ali Hamad Al Badwawi (United Arab Emirates).
Goal: M. Khalatbari Limaki 90'
Iran: M. Rahmati, H. Aghily, K. Heydari, A. Teymourian, J. Hosseini, M. Noori, E. Hajsafi, G. Hadadifar, M. Khalatbari Limaki, M. Gholami, A. Afshin.
Coach: A. Ghotbi.
Russia: I. Akinfeev, V. Berezoutski, R. Shishkin, S. Ignashevich A. Berezoutski, V. Bystrov, K. Zyrianov, I. Denisov, D. Torbinski, A. Kerzhakov, A. Arshavin.
Coach: D. Advocaat.
Substitutes: R. Noroozi for M. Gholami 51'; A. Anyukov for A. Berezoutski 46', D. Bilyaletdinov for V. Bystrov 46', P. Mamaev for R. Shishkin 46', R. Pavlyuchenko for D. Torbinski 46', I. Semshov for A. Kerzhakov 68'.
Yellow Card: R. Pavlyuchenko (65), M. Khalatbari Limaki (84).
Red Card: M. Khalatbari Limaki (90+1).

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