Qatar almost made a dream start under their new coach Milovan Rajevac only to be denied by bad luck as they drew 1-1 with Russia in the friendly international between the two future World Cup hosts at the Al Sadd Stadium yesterday.
Mohamed Kasoula put Qatar – the hosts for 2022 World Cup – ahead as early as in the third minute before Roman Pavlyuchenko equalised for the 2018 hosts in the 34th minute.
Pavlyuchenko broke the three-game goalless streak but the result left Russia coach Dick Advocaat under more pressure before their Euro 2012 qualifying return leg at home on June 4 against Armenia, who held them 0-0 last Saturday. Russia are tied on 10 points in Group B with Ireland and Slovakia.
Qatar, playing their first match since losing to Japan 3-2 in the Asian Cup quarter-finals, started brightly, going into early attack with their pressing game as the Russians, who are 13th in FIFA rankings, struggled to settle in.
In the third minute, Qatar took a surprising lead through Mohamed Kasoula after Meshal Mubarak was brought down on the left flank.
Russia returned with an overhauled look after the break with Advocaat making as many as seven changes to the side without much success.
In the 55th minute, Fabio tested Viacheslav Malafeev, who replaced Ryzhikov at the start of the second half, with a free kick.
After battling in the middle for much of the second half, Khalfan had a clear chance to steal a win for the hosts in the injury time but he shot over the bar from close range. And moments later Pavel Pogrebnyak almost gave Russia a victory only to go wide with his low left footer.
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