MOSCOW (AP) — Russia salvaged a 1-1 draw in the 2018 World Cup host’s friendly against Iran on Tuesday.
The game was played at a pedestrian pace before Sardar Azmoun’s 57th-minute opening goal for Iran, scored on a quick counterattack off a pass by Mehdi Taremi.
In response, the Russians took more risks and were rewarded in the 74th minute when Alexander Samedov found space down the right to cross for his fellow substitute Dmitry Poloz, who was left with a tap-in.
Russia could have scored an equalizer a few minutes earlier, when a cross from Samedov almost crept in, hitting the bar.
Iran, which qualified for the World Cup last month, is unbeaten in seven games.
After a group-stage exit at the Confederations Cup, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has experimented with his team in three recent friendlies, with mixed results.
Tuesday’s team saw a debut for goalkeeper Andrei Lunev and a first start for defender Konstantin Rausch, who previously played for Germany’s youth national teams.
Before the Iran game, Russia recorded a 3-0 win by a team of fringe players in a semi-official game against club side Dynamo Moscow. On Saturday, the Russians beat South Korea 4-2 in part thanks to two own goals from a South Korean defender.