Russia's National Team played its first game with Fabio Capello as head coach. 20-year-old Anzhi player Arseniy Logashov debuted alongside the Italian manager, coming on as a sub for Aleksandr Anyukov, who was injured during the first half. The Ivory Coast has a relatively new manager as well - Sabri Lamouchi took over the managerial post in May 2012. The two teams were pretty equal in both set pieces and in regulary play. Russia started off the first half with several attempts at storming the net. Pavlyuchenko tested keeper Daniel Yeboah with a free kick delivery on the 11th minute. A handball in the box went unnoticed by referee Cüneyt Çakır, as did a great number of fouls from the guest team. However, the Russians managed to get a number of free kicks. Neither team was able to score in the first half, though many of the set pieces could have had potential. The Russians gave away a bit of possession before halftime, trailing 47% to the Ivory Coast's 53%. Both teams had 2 shots on goal. Russia was ahead 4-3 on both total shots and corners, though the Ivory Coast was well ahead when it came to fouls, leading 14 to 6. From a technical perspective, it was anyone's game.
The Russian players made sure to mark Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast's most-capped player and top goalscorer. Sergei Ignashevich prevented the former Chelsea star from making a run toward the net on the 53rd minute. Alan Dzagoev took the free kick for Russia two minutes later, scoring the home team's only goal of the match. Drogba continued to test the Russian net, but the subbed-in Malafeev was just as good as Akinfeev at blocking his shots. Despite Capello's series of substiutions and the team's leap in possession to 69%, the Russians conceded on the 77th minute when PSG defender Siaka Tiéné's cross gave Max Gradel the opportunity for a header at close range. There were no more dangerous moments at either net, except for a late free kick by the home team that caught the Ivory Coast keeper a bit off guard.
The refereeing was not near the level I've seen in other recent friendlies. The official's decisions to not card many of the players of the guest team were questionable. The Ivory Coast played a very physical game. Nevertheless, the friendly served its purpose, giving both managers a chance to observe different combinations of players on the pitch in order to make future decisions regarding the starting line-ups. It wasn't the most exciting game in terms of goal-scoring opportunities, but it was still a treat for both local and traveling fans.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 11AM (EST)
Russia vs. Cot D'Ivoire - 1:1 (0:0)
Arena: Lokomotiv Arena (Yarosalvl, Russia)
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
1:0 Alan Dzagoev ('55)
1:1 Max Gradel ('77)