After Tuesday’s results, Russia had already qualified for the quarter-finals, but Argentina still had work to do to ensure that they, and not Italy, garnered the coveted second spot. But it was Egor Shaykov who was alert enough to redirect a long pass over the outstretched Argentinian goalkeeper, as Russia took the lead within minutes. Moments later, though, Luciano Franceschini expertly sent his direct kick into the far corner to equalise.
And so it was, each side producing an array of inventive attacks. One of the finest was when Russian goalkeeper Andrey Bukhlitskiy threw a long ball to Dmitry Shishin, who headed it on to Rustam Shakhmelyan, who then headed it into the net for the lead. Shakhmelyan struck the woodwork a bit later, as the pressure continued.
Left alone near the side of the pitch, Shaykov was able to slam one into the roof of the net just three seconds into the second period. Federico Hilaire found space as he slotted home to heighten Russian nerves. And Argentina added the equaliser in dramatic fashion as time ticked away.
Goalkeeper Marcelo Salgueiro saw red with moments remaining, but Argentina were able to win on penalties. The two points, though, were not enough to keep up with Group C rivals Italy. Russia are headed to the quarter-finals of Dubai 2009 and will face Switzerland, while Argentina must bid a fond farewell to Jumeirah Beach.