Effervescent Russia and patchy Brazil play out stalemate at the Bridge
It was a mixed return to Stamford Bridge for Luis Felipe Scolari as the first international game at Chelsea’s home stadium in nearly 67 years ended in a 1–1 draw between Brazil and Russia. This leaves the hosts of next year’s World Cup still winless under Scolari in his second spell in charge, while the Russians are yet to lose under Fabio Capello. For a long while though, it seemed that Russia would take home the spoils of this international friendly thanks to a goal from Fayzulin; but a last minute goal from Fred ensured that honours were even.
It was the Russians who had the brighter start to the game, even in the absence of their regular captain Denisov, with early defensive work needed from Brazil. Thiago Silva made an important block in the box from close range off Kerzhakov before a free kick from Ignashevitch in the following minute bounced just in front of Julio Cesar and gave him some problems. Just as they had against Italy, the Brazilians held firm and managed to keep the game goalless at Stamford Bridge.
Russia, playing in their traditional red, continued to press and create more opportunities, again requiring Brazil’s defenders to be in the thick of action. First it was Dani Alves who made the clearance off a header across goal from Kokorin, followed later by Fernandinho blocking a Berezoutski effort which was then fired narrowly wide of goal by Kerzhakov. The Russian quest for a goal continued, with most of the game being played in Brazil’s defensive third of the pitch, and Kerzhakov was denied yet again by a block from Hernanes at the near post.
Brazil’s first real opportunity came past the quarter hour mark, when an excellent delivery into the box from Chelsea player Oscar was merely inches away from Neymar’s boot and was headed behind the line by Anyukov. Neymar was guilty of being too indulgent a little while later, when a good ball from midfield put him through on goal from a wide angle, and he chose to shoot over than provide a square pass to Fred in the centre of the box.
Five minutes from the end of the half, Russia put together another great move with Kerzhakov holding the ball up well for Fayzulin, whose effort was deflected away by Cesar, but only led to a goal kick being awarded by the referee. Thus both teams went into the tunnel with the score yet to change and no time added on as there was little interruption in the game, in spite of claims for handball against Fernando.
Both sides began the second half with much greater intent than the first, with Gabulov being called into action a couple of times within the opening quarter of an hour, as opposed to never in the first half. The Brazilians were usually on the attack, with the roles from the opening part of the first half seemingly being reversed. The Russian defence also held firm though, and made sure that their custodian was well protected at all times.
However, for all their pressure, Brazil’s attempts at goal were mainly from outside the box, drawing reasonably comfortable saves from Gabulov. This lack of a cutting edge was eventually punished by the Russians, who at number 10 are ranked 8 places above their opposition. A foul by Hernanes around the halfway mark led to an attack from Russia, which ended with Fayzulin putting the ball into the net through the legs of Julio Cesar. It was a well worked attack from the men in red as well, with Cesar making a good save and a defender making a block off the line before the patiently camped Russians managed to break down the Brazilian defence.
In the last minute of the game, after an invader had been escorted off the pitch, Brazil substitute Hulk proved just why his star is on the rise. A really well set up move from the wide left Fred little to do but tap the ball home and help Brazil avoid defeat, with Russia conceding a rare goal under the managerial reign of Capello.
Result: Brazil (Fred 90’) 1 – 1 Russia (Viktor Fayzulin 73’)