Russia 1-0 Serbia: Pavel Pogrebnyak capitalizes on goalkeeping
error to secure narrow win for hosts
An toothless display from the visitors played
into the hands of Dick Advocaat's men who were able to hold on to their
narrow advantage following a mistake from Bojan Jorgacevic
By Jonathan Birchall
Russia secured a tight 1-0 victory over Serbia with a fine performance
at the Lokomotiv stadium in Moscow.
A careless spill from shot-stopper Bojan Jorgacevic fell into the path
of substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak to score the only goal of the game for
the hosts on the 53rd minute, after the keeper was unable to keep hold
of Roman Pavlyuchenko's effort from 20 yards out.
The clash may have been billed as a friendly but from as early as the
third minute, the intent of both sides was clear as Zyranov went flying
in with a rash challenge. Competitive it may have been but as the players
simmered, chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges.
It was to take something special to break the deadlock and Andrey Arshavin
so nearly supplied it as the 15 minute mark approached. Weaving in and
out of the left flank, the Arsenal man forced a superb save out of Jorgacevic.
The visitors were in no way making life easy for Advocaat's men, however,
as they patiently maintained possession in the middle of the park, inviting
the hosts to break ranks.
With the game having entered somewhat of a lull as the first half slowed
in pace, both Arshavin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov were forced off with knocks,
with the Dutch coach clearly unwilling to risk his stars given the nature
of the game.
The enforced changes affected the rhythm of the Russians and a Nemanja
Vidic header from a corner nearly broke the deadlock but just went over.
However, the tie as a whole had offered little invention and as the halftime
whistle went, those inside the Lokomotiv stadium will have been largely
impressed by the way in which the opening 45 minutes transpired into such
an insipid affair.
It didn't take long for things to improve for the hosts as soon after
the break, substitute Pogbrenyak pounced upon a mistake by Jorgacevic
following a low shot from Pavlyuchenko to give the hosts the lead. In
truth, it was calamitous effort as opposed to inspirational skill that
led to the goal.
The Serbians had little in the way of response, and the hosts were largely
comfortable for much of the second-half. Chances for Bilyaletdinov and
the goalscorer followed as Advocaat's men looked to pick the visitors
apart on the break.
Vladimir Petrovic threw a number of substitutes on to try and salvage
a draw from the friendly but it wasn't to be as the home side ran out