MOSCOW (AP) Russia will go into its home World Cup without a win in seven games after drawing 1-1 with an under-strength Turkey team on Tuesday.
Russia’s players left the field to jeers from some in the crowd, having recorded just one shot on target in their last two friendlies before the World Cup.
”I don’t think there’s any need to worry,” Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said. ”Today is only June 5 and our (opening World Cup) game is June 14 at 6 p.m., if I remember rightly. There’s still enough time.”
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Alexander Samedov put Russia ahead in the 36th minute with an elegant chip over goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili from a tight angle off a pass from Alan Dzagoev. However, Turkey leveled in the 60th when Russia failed to close down substitute midfielder Yunus Malli, allowing the former Germany under-21 player to hit a shot low and hard from distance past Igor Akinfeev.
Fyodor Smolov could have restored Russia’s lead after getting in behind the Turkish defense in the 72nd but shot wide of the far post.
Russia struggled to break down a Turkish team which won’t play at the World Cup and comprised a mixture of fringe players and young talent, with a starting lineup which averaged fewer than 10 caps each.
Turkey coach Mircea Lucescu said Russia is struggling to cope with the pressure of a home World Cup.
”It was clear the Russian team was worried in this game, that there’s a lot of pressure ahead of the World Cup,” he said.
Since the start of 2016, Russia has won only one game of 13 against teams which qualified for the World Cup, and has conceded in each of its last 10 games.
Russia opens the World Cup at Moscow’s vast Luzhniki arena June 14 against Saudi Arabia – the only team in the competition which is lower in the world rankings – and then meets Egypt and Uruguay in Group A.
Turkey hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002.