Russia held by Lithuania in mystery friendly

Russia were held to a goalless draw by Lithuania on Tuesday in a dismal Euro 2012 warm-up match played at a tiny stadium on the shores of Lake Geneva which was shrouded in mystery.

Both teams hit the bar in the first minute but after that the game seemed more like a training session than a full international, with the spectacular backdrop of the lake and French Alps providing a welcome diversion from the tedium.

There was a rare moment of excitement in the second half when Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev produced a superb double save to turn away a Ramunas Radavicius free-kick and then foil Darvydas Sernas from the rebound.

The Colovray venue has the feel of a non-league ground with a stand on only one side of the pitch, hedges behind the goals and a grassy knoll on the far side.

The game was not advertised by either Stade Nyonais, the second division club which plays at the stadium, or by European football's governing body UEFA, which leases it and has its headquarters on the other side of the road.

At Nyon railway station one hour before kick-off, there was no indication that an international match was being played nearby and the only giveaway in front of the stadium was a car park full of television broadcast lorries.

But there was free entry for those who did know about the match and a crowd of about 1,000 watched the game in a region which is a playground for wealthy Russians.

The Lithuanian contingent consisted of six fans gathered on the grass, including a couple who held aloft their country's flag during the national anthem.

Russia coach Dick Advocaat, whose team will face co-hosts Poland, former European champions Greece and Czech Republic in Group A at next month's finals, said it was all worthwhile.

"To play well against a team like Lithuania you must be 100 percent ready," he told reporters.

"We were missing it today, therefore we had problems," added the Dutchman, who will step down after the European Championships to take charge of PSV Eindhoven.

"I see this game as a good training exercise," he added. "We did a lot of things wrong, hopefully we will learn from them for our next game."

Russia, held 1-1 by Uruguay in their previous warm-up outing last Friday, will face a sterner test when they take on fellow finalists Italy in a friendly at Zurich's Letzigrund on Friday.


SHARES
comments