MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. The national team of Argentina defeated Russia 1-0 during a friendly football match in the Russian capital of Moscow on Saturday.
The international fixture between the Russian and the Argentinian teams served as the inaugural match for the newly refurbished Luzhniki Arena, which had been idle for the period of reconstruction works since 2013.
The match kicked off at 16-00 Moscow time and despite the cloudy and drizzling weather with temperatures hovering around 4 degrees Centigrade (about 40 Fahrenheit), a total of 80,000 spectators turned to attend the game at the legendary stadium.
Among the audience at the Luzhniki Stadium to see the match between Russia and Argentina were Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU).
Both sides have been testing each other on the defense during the opening first 20 minutes of the first half, but it were guests Argentina to deliver a thunderous attempt on the Russian goal on the 21st minute to speed up the game action.
Argentinian striker Angel Di Maria was swiftly assisted by Lionel Messi and cannoned the ball into the goal of the hosts but it was eventually saved by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev.
Several minutes later the Argentinians waged another close attack on the Russian goal, but Akinfeyev was there to save the net again.
Having tasted the offensive perspectives, the Argentinians kept bombing the Russian goal and with a minute remaining before the whistle for the mid-match break Russia’s Akinfeyev made a miraculous bottom right corner save.
The first half of the match registered a figure of five and three goal attempts on behalf of the Argentinian and Russian sides respectively, but the Argentinian squad was obviously more active in the goal zone of the hosts.
The Russian team began the second half of the match aggressively compared to the first half, but guests Argentina found the way in the defense to suppress the attacks of the hosts and went on attacks of the Russian goal keeping the initiative throughout the remaining 45 minutes.
With five minutes remaining in the game Argentina’s forward Sergio Aguero found a pass behind Russia’s goaltender Akinfeyev sending the ball into the Russian net to make the scoreboard flash 1-0 in favor of his team.
Although the referees added four minutes to the match time, hosts Russia failed to take the advantage of the home pitch and to either level or up the score.
The final whistle signaled the victory of Argentina’s 1-0 victory over team Russia, which are likely to meet once again during the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, including at the newly-reconstructed Luzhniki Arena.
The refurbishment of the Luzhniki Arena began in 2013 as part of the country’s preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The stadium is expected to extend its spectator capacity up to 81,000 seats for global championship.
It was the second grand-scale reconstruction of the stadium, originally built in 1957. The first major repair works on the stadium took place in the run-up to the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow.
One of the main aspects of the reconstruction project was to preserve the historical facade of the stadium, which, according to FIFA, "since 1956 hosted a multitude of major sporting and cultural events, including the 1980 Summer Olympics, world championships in ice hockey, athletics and rugby and concerts featuring some of the world's greatest musical performers."
The Luzhniki Stadium’s principal affinity, however, was with football since over 3,000 matches have been played there over the years.
The RFU announced in October that the Russian national football team would play at home two friendly matches this month - against the teams of Argentina and Spain on November 11 and 14 respectively.