Russia were held to a draw by an Arturo Vidal-inspired Chile in Moscow, in their final game before the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup begins in just over a week’s time.
Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal stamped his mark on the game from the off and clattered into Igor Smolnikov on the edge of the Russian area, giving away the game’s first free kick.
The visitors created the first clear cut chance, when Eduardo Vargas forced Igor Akinfeev low down to his left hand near post. Russia then went close at the other end, first through Dmitry Kombarov and then Fedor Smolov, but neither effort troubled Chile goalkeeper Johnny Herrera.
As the first half progressed, an important double act formed in the shape of Vidal and former Premier League winger Jean Beausejour, who seemed able to find Vidal’s mohawked head almost at will.
On four occasions, Beausejour’s pinpoint left foot found a rising Vidal, who, at the fourth attempt, finally beat Russian keeper and captain Akinfeev, but the Spanish referee, Jesus Manzano, disallowed the goal for a push in the back.
The match was goalless at half time.
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov became animated on the touchline at times, clearly frustrated at his team’s lackluster performance, and its inability to neutralize Beausejour’s sniper left foot.
Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez made his bow after the restart in the hope of making a breakthrough for La Roja. Four minutes later, Chile drew first blood, going 1-0 up through former Juventus man Mauricio Isla who stroked the ball home from close range on 59 minutes.
Russia responded almost immediately with Alexander Samedov who shot over the bar with a tame shot from the edge of the area.
Russia equalized less than ten minutes after going behind when Viktor Vasin headed home from a Dmitry Kombarov corner, moments after the home side appealed for a penalty from a Denis Glushakov shot.
68 GOAL Viktor Vasin heads home from a corner moments after Russia appealled for a penalty from Glushakov's shot, scores level at 1-1 pic.twitter.com/vuzRsFJbwT— Danny Armstrong (@DannyWArmstrong) June 9, 2017
From then on Russia pushed hard for the winner, drawing huge roars from the crowd whenever they pressed forward, but were unable to break into the final third through a combination of sloppy passing and extremely tight Chilean defending.
Sanchez did have a chance on goal, effortlessly letting the ball run across his body to maneuver a left footed strike which Akinfeev saved.
Vidal remained firmly in the eye of the midfield storm. The Chilean enforcer crunched into Fyodor Kudryashov who stayed down and had to receive treatment.
The defender, already wearing a protective mask, limped from the field but returned to the action, only to signal to the bench and then substituted by Ruslan Kambolov.
Despite his abrasive play, Vidal received a standing ovation from the Moscow crowd when substituted. The midfielder was a commanding presence in the middle of the park and unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
In the closing stages, Denis Glushakov attempted an overhead kick from a Smolov cross, connecting well and forcing Chile keeper Herrera into a smart save down to his left.
The winner, however, evaded the hosts and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Russia will now have a week’s break until their FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup curtain raiser versus New Zealand in Group A at the St. Petersburg Stadium, with injury to worries ahead of their opener.
Chile play Romania next in a friendly Tuesday, before kicking off their Confed Cup campaign against Cameroon in Moscow in Group B on June 18.