INNSBRUCK (AUSTRIA), May 31: Russia’s defensive weakness was on display as the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts fell 1-0 to Austria, who failed to qualify for the tournament.
Austria's Martin Hinteregger (right) and Russia's Mario Fernandes challenge for the ball during the International Friendly at the Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck, Austria. - AP/PTI
Playing their penultimate international friendly before the World Cup, the Russians started brightly in Wednesday night’s match at the Innsbruck’s Tivoli Stadium here, reports EFE news agency.
But the momentum shifted to the hosts in the 12th minute with a shot on goal by Robert Zulj in his first match as a starter for Austria.
With Alessandro Schopf taking the lead, the Austrians picked up the pace and started asking questions of the Russian defenders.
It was Marko Arnautovic who set up the only goal of the night, getting the ball to Alessandro Schopf, who beat Akinfeev to make it 1-0 for Austria in the 28th minute.
The visitors, meanwhile, proved unable to pose any threat to the Austrian goal and were lucky not to go down a man when Granat brought down Arnautovic with a tackle that would have merited a red card under different circumstances.
Arnautovic had a chance to double the lead for Austria early in the second half, but his shot went over the cross-bar.
Both teams made changes in the second period, robbing the contest of rhythm and excitement.
Russia will visit Turkey next week for their final friendly before hosting Saudi Arabia in Moscow on June 14 in the World Cup kick-off. – IANS