June 5, 2018 / 6:27 PM / 19 days ago

Russia held to 1-1 draw by Turkey in final friendly before World Cup

MOSCOW (Reuters) - World Cup hosts Russia squandered the lead to draw 1-1 with Turkey in Moscow on Tuesday, extending their winless streak to seven matches in their last friendly before the tournament kicks off next week.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Russia vs Turkey - VEB Arena, Moscow, Russia - June 5, 2018 Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Turkey’s Yunus Malli REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Stanislav Cherchesov’s side took the lead in the 36th minute as Spartak Moscow’s Alexander Samedov effortlessly chipped Turkish goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili after Alan Dzagoev fed him a short pass in the box.

The goal was not enough, however, to give Russia a much-needed and morale-boosting win heading into their opening World Cup match against Saudi Arabia on June 14.

Turkey substitute Yunus Malli, who plays for VfL Wolfsburg, equalised in the 60th minute, beating veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with a 25-metre strike, one of Turkey’s few chances of the match.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Russia vs Turkey - VEB Arena, Moscow, Russia - June 5, 2018 Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Turkey’s Kaan Ayhan REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Despite energetic midfield performances from 22-year-old playmaker Alexander Golovin and Spartak Moscow’s Roman Zobnin in the first half, the team struggled to link up with striker Fedor Smolov and failed to create chances.

Turkey, who did not qualify for the World Cup finals, nearly added a second goal in the 79th minute when Malli’s shot floated just over the crossbar.

Russia are 66th in the FIFA rankings, the second lowest-ranked team in the 32-nation tournament. They have yet to reach the World Cup knock-out stage in the post-Soviet era.

They will face Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt in Group A at the World Cup.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Toby Davis

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