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Wasteful England throw away win, Russia seizes point at the death

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The tough part of reviewing a tournament opener is not knowing whether a dominant team is that strong or a dominated team that week.

Denis Glushakov made that a whole lot more difficult, scoring in the second minute of stoppage time to steal a point for dominated Russia in a 1-1 draw in Marseille on Saturday.

England may’ve forgotten its finishing boots, but the Three Lions towered over Russia on Saturday in France. Eric Dier‘s free kick broke England through for what appeared to be a win, before a late chance ended up behind Joe Hart.

England next faces victorious Wales on Thursday — Gareth Bale is salivating at the chance — while Russia turns around for Slovakia a day earlier.

[ MORE: Wales beats Slovakia | Swiss over Albania ]

Adam Lallana hammered a shot at Igor Akinfeev in the first 10 minutes, but the Liverpool man’s offering was moved clear of goal for a corner.

And Chris Smalling rode Kane’s corner to Akinfeev as well, while veteran Russia defender Sergei Ignashevich stung Joe Hart’s hands with a header at the other end.

Kane provided Raheem Sterling with a break, but the latter took a touch too much in the box and saw his terrific chance tackled away.

England’s defense was expecting to be its weak point, but Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling stood strong in the middle… until the final moments.

The attack, however, was missing its finishing touch. Sterling was especially wasteful, and Wayne Rooney was robbed by Akinfeev before Lallana smashed the rebound off the post in the 71st minute.

England won a free kick on the edge of the 18, and Dier smashed it home. The Tottenham man delivered past a questionably positioned Igor Akinfeev. Nevermind the goalkeeper, Dier had done what Sterling and Lallana could not: put one home.

But Glushakov tapped Aleksei Berezutski’s header over the line — don’t be surprised to see the goal credited to the latter when all is said and done — and England was left scratching its collective head.

At halftime: Russia, South Korea at a standstill — FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: A positive start for the South Koreans gave way to Russian control, with methodical but consistent build up leaving Korea without the possession it enjoyed over the match’s first minutes. By the end of the half, the Koreans were threatening again, yet after 45 minutes in which the teams combined for one long distance shot on target, the scoresheet remained blank.

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Goals (and how they happened): Not applicable.

Other key moments:

31′ – Ki Sung-Yueng slides through Aleksandr Samedov, drawing the game’s second yellow card. Aside from the caution, however, the foul looks like a meaningless one. Russia will restart play from 35 yards out. Sergei Ignashevich, however, almost makes Ki, blasting a heavy ball at Jung Sung-Ryong that leaves the Korean keeper with no option but to spill it in front of goal. The Korean defense cleans up the rebound, keeping the match scoreless.

34′ – Korea’s yet to threaten, but thanks a turnover from Denis Glushakov, Koo Ja-Cheol changes that. Taking the ball off the Russian midfielder, Koo tees off from 26 yards, clipping a Russian defender on what’s nearly the games first goal. Left flat-footed, Igor Akinfeev watches as the ball goes just wide of his left post.

39′ – After being silenced for most of the half, Son Heung-Min gets a chance to make an impact, given space for an 18-yard shot. The ball goes high and into the stands, but Korea’s back in this match. After Russia controlled the middle the period, the spark the Koreans showed at the outset has returned.

Lineups:

Russia: Akinfeev, Ignashevich, Glushakov, Kokorin, Berezutskiy, Shatov, Zhirkov, Samedov, Fayzulin, Eshchenko, Kombarov.

South Korea: Jung; Yun, Kim, Son, Park, Y. Lee, Koo, Han, Ki, C. Lee, Hong

Key players:

  • Ki Sung-Yeung, South Korea -When the Koreans are able to set up in the Russian third, the ability to swing play through the team’s two deep midfielders allows them to maintain the threats of both Son and Lee Chung-Yong. As one of Korea’s most creative players, it will be up to Ki to push the right buttons to take advantage of that slower Russian defense.
  • Viktor Faizulin, Russia – And because of that speed, it’s up to Faizulin and Glushakov to break up play before it can become dangerous. Faizulin has already disposed Korean players twice and intercepted another ball.
  • Sergei Ignashevich, Russia – If Faizulin can’t protect that defense, it will be up to the veteran CSKA defender to keep his team organized. Through 45 minutes, so far so good, but if Russia doesn’t control as much play in the second half, Ignashevich’s leadership will become more important.

Question for the second half:

  • When will we see Aleksandr Kerzhakov? Fabio Capello elected to start Yuri Zkirkov on the left, pushing Aleksandr Kokorin up top. That left Kerzhakov on the bench, but with Russia only able to generate one shot on target, when does Capello turn back to his other threat to score goals?