MOSCOW, Russia (AP) — Fabio Capello's first match as coach of Russia ended in a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast in a friendly international yesterday.
Alan Dzagoev put Russia ahead in the 55th minute with a low free kick through a wall of defenders. But Max Gradel hit the crossbar and was first to the rebound to head in an equaliser in the 78th.
After four years in charge of England, Capello took over from Dick Advocaat following Russia'a failure to make it out of the group stage at the European Championship in June.
Both teams struggled to create opportunities in the first half.
Didier Drogba came close to putting the visitors on the scoreboard in the seventh minute, but his low shot from a narrow angle was blocked by Igor Akinfeev.
Four minutes later, former Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko's free kick from 21 metres (yards) was blocked by Daniel Yeboah.
"It was not a performance, it was a rehearsal," Capello said of the game. "I had a chance to look at new young players in this game. Some of them have never played for the national team. I'm very pleased with the performance. I'm sure I had a strong team."
It was a more creative game after the break.
Drogba rushed into the box and was close to scoring, but defender Sergei Ignashevich denied him from going one-on-one with substitute keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev. After Dzagoev's goal, Abdul Razak came close to equalising in the 68th minute, but he hit the right post from Drogba's pass into the box. Drogba's shot on goal in the 80th was blocked by Malafeev.
"I was disappointed about the goal because the luck was on the side of the Ivory Coast," Capello said. "The ball flew to the Ivorian player after it bounced. In 99 per cent of cases, the goal wouldn't have happened."
Russia will host Northern Ireland in their 2014 World Cup qualifying opener on September 7. Portugal, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg are also in Group F.
Russia -- Igor Akinfeev (Vyacheslav Malafeev, 59), Aleksandr Anyukov (Arseniy Logashov, 30), Vasiliy Berezutskiy, Georgi Shchennikov, Sergei Ignashevich, Igor Denisov, Denis Glushakov, Alan Dzagoev (Andrei Arshavin, 59), Viktor Fayzulin, Vladimir Bystrov (Aleksandr Samedov, 74), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Aleksandr Kokorin, 46).
Ivory Coast: Daniel Yeboah, Emmanuel Eboue (Jean -Jacques Gosso, 84), Didier Zokora, Siaka Tiene, Abdul Razak (Didier Ya Konan, 69), Yaya Toure (Yanick Sagbo, 90), Kolo Toure, Max Gradel, Kader Keita, Didier Drogba, Sol Bamba.