Two own goals help World Cup hosts Russia beat South Korea
By Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two own goals in three second-half minutes from defender Kim Ju-young helped Russia to a 4-2 win over South Korea in a friendly international in Moscow on Saturday.
The hosts of next year's World Cup were relieved to enjoy a confidence-boosting win in their first international test since they were knocked out of the Confederations Cup on home soil at the group stage in June.
Russia had some bright moments but were grateful for lucky breaks in the second half against a team that finished second in their Asian qualifying group.
After Fedor Smolov had headed home a corner from Alexander Samedov just before halftime, Russia forged further ahead after the break when wayward touches by Kim saw him inadvertently beat his own goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu twice in quick succession.
Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Alexei Miranchuk added another for Russia in the 83rd minute.
Kwon Kyung-won headed past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the 87th minute before Ji Dong-won earned further consolation for the visitors in the dying seconds.
"We've taken a step in the right direction," Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov told reporters.
"I liked the score. I liked that we played more consistently."
As World Cup hosts, Russia have not had the opportunity to gauge their strength against Europe's best in qualifying and have been trying to compensate for the lack of genuine competition by playing friendlies.
The return of Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin brought energy to Russia's usually blunt attack after nearly a year's absence from the national team.
Yet the 26-year-old, long snubbed for his poor form and involvement in off-pitch controversy, missed several scoring chances in the first half and lacked coordination with fellow striker Smolov.
"Smolov and Kokorin tried hard, they tried to help the defence," Cherchesov said.
"Any player needs time. They tried to find each other, to play with each other but they sometimes overplayed the ball."
Russia play another friendly against Iran in Kazan on Oct. 10.
(Editing by Ian Chadband)