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Zyryanov saves the day for Russia in Holland friendly

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Aug 2008

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Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov saved the day for Russia in a 1-1 draw against Holland here on Wednesday in a warm-up match for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie netted the opening goal for Holland in the first half before Zyryanov levelled from the spot in the 77th minute.

The countries, who met in the European championships quarter-final earlier this year which Russia won, both started cautiously.

The hosts created the first chance of the match in the 12th minute when Dynamo Moscow midfielder Igor Semshov fired wide from the edge of the penalty box from Roman Pavlyuchenko's right-handed cross.

Holland replied with a series of threats, pinning the hosts back, but Russia defended stoutly stifling the guests attacking efforts.

But Russia were unable to prevent the opening goal in the 23rd minute from van Persie, who sent the rebound into the top left hand corner with a precise shot from the edge of the box.

The visitors, fresh from their success, rushed ahead forcing Russia's keeper Igor Akinfeyev into several remarkable saves but failed to increase their lead before the break.

After the interval, Russia upped the tempo, keeping the visitors' defence under pressure but lacked precision and missed a number of chances for an equaliser while the Dutchmen defended well replying on the counter-attacks.

However Russia managed to level with 13 minutes remaining through Zyryanov, who upset Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a spotkick after Giovanni van Bronckhorst fouled Dmitry Torbinsky in the box.

In the final minutes, Holland had a couple of chances for the winning goal but Akinfeyev was in complete command of his net and denied all of the visitors' threats.

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