IGOR Akinfeev produced the goalkeeping gaffe of the World Cup as Russia laboured to a 1-1 draw with South Korea in Cuiaba.
The CSKA Moscow keeper capped an error-strewn performance by somehow allowing Lee Keun-ho’s speculative effort to squirm through his grasp - an incident that will have given Russia’s former England boss Fabio Capello flashbacks of Rob Green’s mistake in 2010.
But Russia grabbed an important point in their opening Group H clash when substitute Alexandr Kerzhakov took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to join Vladimir Beschastnykh as his country’s record goalscorer with 26.
In energy-sapping conditions the game began at strolling pace.
Son Heung-min was the first to inject some energy, bursting at the Russian defence and finding room only to blow it with a poor shot.
Viktor Fayzulin almost opened things up at the other end in the 21st minute, cutting inside from the wing and aiming for Alexander Samedov at the far post.
His cross ran just too long and the best Samedov could do was hook the ball back into the area, where the chance fizzled out.
With little else happening by the half-hour mark centre-half Sergei Ignashevich tried his luck with a 35-yard free-kick, with Jung Sung-ryong making an unconvincing parry.
Both sides created more in the 10 minutes before the interval but the deadlock remained.
Yuri Zhirkov wasted Russia’s best break when his scuffed shot undid Alexander Kokorin’s hard work, while Koo Ja-cheol’s deflected effort snaked inches wide with Akinfeev rooted.
Russia started the second half with an early corner that Vasili Berezutski should have headed on target, but otherwise South Korea made the running.
Twice in the space of seven minutes they drew spills from the shaky Akinfeev, Ki Sung-yeung with the first sighter and Kim Young-gwon following suit from 25 yards.
On both occasions the goalkeeper fumbled the ball back into the danger area before smothering it ahead of the strikers.
The 28-year-old’s luck ran out eventually when substitute Lee broke quickly and, having feigned to pass, instead shot from 25 yards.
Akinfeev was placed to make a simple save but made a woeful hash of it as he flapped it over the line before collapsing after it.
Capello responded by sending on Kerzhakov and within three minutes he had equalised.
Fellow substitute Alan Dzagoev provided the spark with an awkward strike that Jung could only palm into a crowded six-yard box.
A failed clearance saw the ball squirm loose, leaving Kerzhakov to convert a simple finish.
The game ended at its most open, both sides sniffing a late winner, but with a lack of cutting edge in either box, a point apiece represented a fair result.