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Russia given ‘lesson in effectivity’ by Argentina - Hiddink

Russia’s coach Guus Hiddink admitted after a 3-2 friendly home loss to Argentina that his side had been given a master class in how to take chances.

MOSCOW, August 13 (Marc Bennetts for RIA Novosti) – Russia's coach Guus Hiddink admitted after a 3-2 friendly home loss to Argentina that his side had been given a master class in how to take chances.

Northwest Moscow’s 28,000-capacity Cherkizovo stadium was packed for the visit of Argentina, and before the kick-off fans rose to commemorate the 30th anniversary of a plane crash that took the lives of 17 players from Soviet-era side FC Pakhtakor Tashkent.

Russia had a chance to open the scoring straight from the start, Arsenal star Andrei Arshavin playing through Dynamo Moscow forward Alexander Kerzhakov, who shot high and wide.

However, the home side only had to wait until the 17th minute before taking the lead, Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Igor Semshov putting the finishing touch to a fluid move, Arshavin again involved.

With the crowd in fine voice, Russia swept forward in search of a second against an Argentine side that initially seemed as disinterested in the game as coach Diego Maradona, who had complained beforehand that the match was “unhelpful” ahead of a key World Cup qualifier against Brazil in September.

Argentina were missing Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez, both out with injuries, and it wasn’t until the 37th minute that the guests seriously threatened, Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero shooting straight at Russia’s keeper Igor Akinfeev.

It was Aguero again who fired in the next attempt, this one however finding the back of the net, a piledriver from outside the box bouncing in off the post in the final minute of the first half.

Argentina scored a second straight after the break, substitute Lisandro Lopez running through some weak Russian tackles to fire in number two in the 46th minute. Things got even worse for Hiddink’s side 14 minutes later, a swift break bringing the ball to Jesus Datolo, who scored from the edge of the penalty area. Having just come on for Maxi Rodriguez, the goal scorer ran straight back towards the bench and leapt into the arms of Maradona, knocking the portly legend to the ground.

Tottenham Hotspur forward Roman Pavlyuchenko, on for Kerzhakov at the break, pulled one back in the 78th minute, his free-kick taking a wicked deflection on its way into the net.

Hiddink brought on forward Pavel Pogrebnyak and attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoyev in an attempt to rescue the game, but it was a by now very much committed Argentina who claimed the win. The loss was Russia's first at home since a 1-0 defeat to Brazil in March 2006.

“This is the way we have to play our friendly games,” Hiddink said at the post-match press conference. “When you play teams of this quality, in games of this intensity, you can see where your team is.”

After praising his side’s performance in the first half hour, Hiddink said Russia got “static” immediately before and after the break and were punished by a ruthless Argentina. “In that period we got a lesson in effectivity. They got three goals from three chances.”

“I really liked how our team played against one of Europe’s best sides,” Maradona told journalists.

When asked if he had changed his opinion about the usefulness of the match, he said that, “I never said I didn’t want to come to Moscow. I just didn’t want to come here now, before the match against Brazil. I have very good relations with Guus Hiddink.”

Russian now face Wales and Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifiers in early September before what promises to be an epic clash against Germany in Moscow on October 10.



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