Russia fight back to snatch late draw with Belgium
Russia opened the scoring in the third minute through Viktor Vasin, but
Kevin Mirallas levelled for Belgium from the penalty spot and Christian
Benteke scored twice to give the visitors a commanding advantage at halftime.
Russia pulled one back 15 minutes from the end through substitute Aleksey
Miranchuk and then snatched a morale-boosting equaliser.
It was a much-improved performance from Russia, whose recent results were
sounding increasingly loud alarm bells ahead of next year's tournament.
Russia were beaten 2-0 by Ivory Coast in Krasnodar on Friday but will
draw some heart from Tuesday's comeback, even if it was against an under-strength
Belgium side without regulars like Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne,
Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, who made a cameo appearance near the end.
Benteke proved an adequate replacement in attack as he won the penalty
that led to the equaliser, powering his way into the Russian penalty box
before Roman Neustadter brought him down.
Mirallas hit a poor penalty but Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev dived
right over the top of it.
Neustadter was also involved in the opening goal when he played a pass
back into the danger area from a poorly cleared free kick for Vasin to
tap home from close range.
Belgium went ahead in the 42nd minute from a corner as Neustadter cleared
Jan Vertonghen's goal-bound header straight at Benteke, who was left with
a simple finish.
Benteke headed in an in-swinging free kick from Nacer Chadli to hand Belgium
a two-goal advantage on the stroke of halftime.
A host of second-half substitutions took the momentum out of the game
before Russia capitalised on sloppy midfield play by the visitors and
Miranchuk then played a one-two with fellow substitute Bukharov before
steering the ball into the net.
Bukharov then snatched a draw with an opportunistic finish just minutes
before the final whistle.
Mar 28, 2017
* * *
Russia 3-3 Belgium
March 28, 2017
Sochi. The Stadium 'Fischt'
Referee: S. Marciniak (Poland)
Russia: Akinfeev (c), Vasin, Neustadter, Kudryashov, D. Kombarov, Zobnin,
Dzagoev (Ozdoev, 17; Miranchuk, 72), Erokhin (Glushakov, 76), Samedov,
Kanunnikov (Bukharov, 47), Poloz (Golovin, 62)
Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Belgium: Mignolet, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Nainggolan, Vertonghen (c),
Mirallas (Mertens, 66), Foket, Tielemans (Witsel, 66), Dembele (Hazard
85), Benteke (Lukaku, 77), Chadli (Carrasco, 77)
Coach: Roberto Martinez (Spain)
Goals: Vasin (3), Mirallas (17 - on penalty), Benteke (42, 45), Miranchuk
(74), Bukharov (90+2)