Russia holds Chile to draw ahead of Confederations Cup
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 10, 2017 09:44 AM
Russia's Fyodor Smolov, left struggles for the ball with Chile's Pablo Hernandez during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and Chile at the VEB Arena stadium in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
JAMES ELLINGWORTH, AP Sports Writer
MOSCOW (AP) — Chile was held to a 1-1 draw by Russia in a friendly on Friday ahead of the Confederations Cup.
Alexis Sanchez came on as a substitute and used his first touch of the ball to send Mauricio Isla behind the Russian defense and put Chile in front in the 56th minute at CSKA Moscow's VEB Arena.
Russia responded in the 67th when center-back Viktor Vasin scored with a powerful header off Dmitry Kombarov's corner.
The Russians had a chance to win the game in the 83rd when Denis Glushakov forced a good reaction save from Johnny Herrera. Chile's first-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was unavailable because of a calf strain.
Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said his players needed time to recover match fitness and said Russia's compact defense had made it hard to create chances.
Russia had "a lot of people and not much space" at the back, Pizzi said through a translator, calling the draw "a fair result."
The draw against the South American champions will lift Russian morale following mixed recent form and a series of injuries, including the loss of midfielder Alan Dzagoev and striker Artyom Dzyuba.
A push to replace older players has elevated some former fringe players to key roles, such as defenders Vasin, Fyodor Kudryashov and Roman Shishkin, who all started.
"I've thanked the team for the way their game came together," Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said. "We've taken a step forward, in my opinion."
Russia starts its Confederations Cup campaign against New Zealand on June 17 in Group A, while Chile takes on Cameroon in Group B a day later in the warmup tournament for the 2018 World Cup. Before that, Chile has one more friendly against Romania on Tuesday.