Kostas Katsouranis canceled out Roman Shirokov’s early strike to secure a 1-1 draw for Greece aganist Russia in their international friendly on Friday.
Shirokov opened the scoring after just two minutes, hitting a deflected shot over Greece goalkeeper Alexandreos Tzorvas. In-form CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev put Shirokov in with a well-timed through ball.
Greece carved out a well-executed equalizer on the hour mark, outpassing the Russians in their own penalty box before Katsouranis rose unmarked at the back post to head into the corner.
The game pitted two teams to have topped their Euro 2012 qualifying groups, and was marked with quality in attack but ordinary defending.
Russia coach Dick Advocaat handed a half each to young debutant strikers Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Korokin. Neither gave Advocaat reason to revert from regular starting pair Roman Pavlyuchenko and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who were rested.
After scoring the opener, Shirokov turned provider, flicking a pass that sat up perfectly for Andrei Arshavin, but the captain couldn’t keep his volley down.
Dimitrios Salpingidis had the chance to counterpunch early on, but sent an outside-of-the-boot shot just past Vyacheslav Malafeev’s goal.
Celtic forward Georgios Samaras blasted into the net inside 15 minutes but was adjuged to have fouled a defender in the build-up. Vasilis Torosidis headed straight at Malafeev moments later, before Giorgos Fotakis dragged wide from distance.
Arshavin latched onto a pinpoint cross from Igor Denisov cross but headed wide half-heartedly.
Salpingidis finished off an incisive Greece counterattack with a first-time sliding volley into the corner, but again the goal was ruled out, this time for offside.
Greece had time just before the half-time whistle to score a third disallowed goal, with the offside Torosidis heading past Malafeev from point-blank range.
Samaras had the second half’s first shot, finding Russia substitute goalkeeper Anton Shunin equal to his low drive to the corner.
Shirokov then played in substitute striker Aleksandr Korokin, but the debutant hit his first scoring chance for the national team straight at the onrushing Tzorvas.
The Greeks’ equalizer spurred the visitors into action, as Arshavin burst through but had his shot deflected wide.
Russia rode their luck moments later as Angelos Charisteas, scorer of the goal that brought Greece victory in the Euro 2004 final against Portugal, headed onto the post.
The ball rebounded and struck Shunin’s head, but backspin stopped it on the line and the goalkeeper gathered.
Alexis Tziolis thumped a free kick into the Russia wall 10 minutes from time, as both teams tired.
Substitute Nikos Liberopoulos smashed a late volley over Shunin’s bar, before Roman Shishkin did the same with a 90th-minute free kick.
Greece: Alexandros Tzorvas, Avraam Papadopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis, Socratis Papastasthopoulos, Jose Holebas, Girorgos Karagounis (Alexis Tziolis, 57), Kostas Katsouranis (Grigoris Makos, 88), Giorgos Fotakis (Nikos Liberopoulos, 81), Theofanis Gekas (Kostas Mitroglou, 77), Dimitrios Salpingidis (Panagiotis Kone, 69), Georgios Samaras (Angelos Charisteas, 57).
Russia: Vyacheslav Malafeev (Anton Shunin, 46), Sergei Ignashevich, Vasiliy Berezutsky (Aleksei Berezutsky, 46), Aleksandr Anyukov, Yuri Zhirkov (Roman Shishkin 67), Konstantin Zyryanov (Denis Glushakov, 79), Igor Denisov, Roman Shirokov (Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. 84), Artem Dzyuba (Aleksandr Kokorin, 46), Andrei Arshavin, Alan Dzagoev.