CUIABA, Brazil - Alexander Kerzhakov rescued Russia in their first World Cup finals match since 2002, scoring three minutes after coming on as substitute to salvage a 1-1 draw against South Korea.
The 31-year-old Zenit St Petersburg striker, who is the sole survivor from the squad that appeared at the 2002 World Cup finals, was brought on after rival's substitute Lee Keun-Ho put South Korea ahead with a 30 metre shot that Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev disastrously parried over his head into the net.
Yesterday's result left both countries trailing Belgium who head the Group H table after beating Algeria 2-1 earlier.
Russia, who host the 2018 finals, were looking to make an impact in their landmark return. They owed their saved honour to Kerzhakov who scored his 26th international goal.
On Akinfeev's error Russian coach Fabio Capello said, "Just like some players can miss penalties it can happen that a keeper makes a mistake as well.
"You can accept a mistake from a great keeper like Akinfeev. Today it turned out fine.
"The reaction of the players was really good," the Italian added when asked about the Korean goal.
"That was important to me."
Korean coach Hong Myung-Bo commented: "It's the first match and I'm satisfied."