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SOCHI, March 28. /TASS/. An inaugural international football match between Belgium and Russia at the newly reconstructed Fisht Stadium in Sochi, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Olympics, ended with 3-3 draw.
Hosts Russia, ranked by FIFA in 60thplace among international teams, raised the spirits of home crowds scoring an opening goal in the third minute of the first half, but their emotions were tuned down after guests Belgium tied the score with a penalty shot in less than 15 minutes.
Ranked in the fifth position, according to the most recent FIFA monthly rankings, Belgium scored two more goals in the Russian net before retreating to the locker rooms for the break.
With the obvious dominance in handling the ball, the Belgium squad, also known as ‘Red Devils,’ continued exerting their dominance over the Russian team, which in turn cannoned two unexpected goals into the net of their guests to tie the score at 3:3 before the final whistle.
Commenting on the match results, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said it was "a good holiday of football and the national team made another half-step forward."
"I would like to say once again that it was a brilliant friendly match, a brilliant opening of the Fisht stadium," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said. "There was no option for us for losing at this stadium, which granted us so much happiness, particularly at the closing day of the Olympics."
Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, said tonight’s draw against such team as Belgium can be equaled with the victory.
"Our stadium is very lucky and this is why our team scored the first goal," Pakhomov said. "This is also pleasant to witness that a draw with the team, which is ranked 5th (in FIFA rankings) is like a victory for us."
"I believe that our stadium is very lucky and that it will bring nothing but the victories for the national team in the future," the Sochi mayor added.
March 28 friendly match between Russia and Belgium kicked-off at the famous Fisht Arena in Sochi at 7:00 p.m. Moscow time (16:00 GMT). It was the inaugural international football fixture at the recently reconstructed sports facility in Russia’s south.
The Fisht Arena, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, underwent reconstruction works to be adjusted for hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The head-to-head statistics for Russia and Belgium was totally unfavorable for the hosting team. Belgium defeated Russia 3-2 at 2002 FIFA World Cup, then marched by the Russian squad with confident 2-0 victory in a friendly match in 2010 and during the most recent encounter at the 2014 FIFA World Cup edged the Russian 1-0.
According to FIFA’s most recently issued monthly ranking list of the best international teams, Russia remained at the cellar-bottom 60th position, while the so-called ‘Red Devils’ squad from Belgium was solid in the top-ten holding the fifth position (following world’s best Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Chile
National teams around the globe are currently in the qualifying stage battling for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Russia as the host nation has been already guaranteed a berth in the world’s main quadrennial football event.
Therefore, the Russian national team is playing friendly football matches in the run-up to the much anticipated 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Russian national team is set to play two remaining football matches ahead of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, which are an away game against the Hungarian team on June 5 in Budapest and home game in Moscow against Chile on June 9.