By Ria Novosti
A quick-fire exchange of goals early in the second half from Luis Suarez and Alexander Kerzhakov ensured Uruguay and Russia shared the honors in a keenly fought 1-1 friendly draw in Moscow on Friday.
Russia saw more of the ball in their first of three friendlies before Euro 2012, but Uruguay were a threat on the counterattack and posted more shots on goal.
Liverpool striker Suarez opened the scoring for Uruguay on 48 minutes, picking up Diego Perez’s pass on the edge of the penalty area and dribbling into the center as the defenders backed off, before slotting the ball low into the goal on the near side.
Russia struck back within a minute as Roman Shirokov played in his Zenit St. Petersburg teammate Kerzhakov at the second attempt after a rebound from Diego Godin, and Kerzhakov easily lofted the ball over the onrushing Diego Muslera.
“I think we could have won, I missed a couple of chances,” Kerzhakov said in televised comments. “The thing I liked the most is that we didn’t give way to the South American champions. We played very well today. I think we can still improve.”
Kerzhakov thought he had put Russia in front on 71 minutes, when he repeated his lofted finish over Muslera but it was disallowed for offside.
Both teams appeared to escape injuries.
On nine minutes, Suarez seized on a misplaced pass by Alexander Anyukov and bore down on goal but was stopped with a sliding tackle by Ignashevich, who then blocked a long shot from the Liverpool striker three minutes later.
A last-second challenge from Diego Godin on 13 minutes prevented Pavel Pogrebnyak going clear on goal from Marat Izmailov’s through ball.
Diego Forlan hit a free-kick in a dangerous position on 20 minutes, but it was just too high for Edinson Cavani to connect with a header.
Within seconds, Suarez dribbled at the Russian defense, beating Ignashevich, but sliced his shot well wide of Vyacheslav Malafeev’s goal.
Suarez charged down the right flank after 25 minutes and played in Cavani, but the Napoli forward was forced wide by Ignashevich and shot over the bar.
With 27 minutes gone, Konstantin Zyryanov lobbed the ball to Izmailov who controlled it and moved into the five-yard box, but fell under a challenge from Lugano as he was about to shoot, before slapping the ground in frustration as the crowd shouted for a penalty.
Uruguay mounted a counterattack on 31 minutes, Cavani finding Forlan, who played in Alvaro Pereira, but he was unable to find the target.
The last real chance before half-time came with three minutes remaining before the break when Alvaro Pereira nodded Forlan’s curling free kick wide of the post.
After the opener and equalizer in the second half, Shirokov beat Godin in tussle for ball in the box on 53 minutes, but then slammed the ball wide from nine yards out.
Six minutes after the hour mark, Suarez came close to a second after attacking down the right flank, but Ignashevich blocked the shot.
Two minutes later the Liverpool forward threatened again, this time on the left, but was stopped when Malafeev dived onto the ball, although the collision with Suarez left the goalkeeper winded.
On 86 minutes, Arshavin found Shirokov in space on the edge of the box, but his former Zenit teammate blazed the ball over the bar.
Russia will play friendlies against Lithuania and Italy in Switzerland before starting their Euro 2012 campaign against the Czech Republic on June 8, before further group stage games against co-hosts Poland and finally Greece.
For Uruguay, the match was a warm-up for World Cup qualifying matches in South America.
Russia: Vyacheslav Malefeev, Alexander Anyukov, Alexei Berezutsky (Roman Sharonov, 46), Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov (Dmitry Kombarov, 70), Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov (Denis Glushakov, 77), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Alexander Kerzhakov, 46), Andrei Arshavin, Marat Izmailov (Alexander Kokorin, 77).
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Diego Lugano, Diego Godin, Martin Caseres, Maxi Pereira, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Diego Perez (Walter Gargano, 78), Alvaro Pereira (Gaston Ramirez, 78), Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani.