Capello starts with Côte d'Ivoire draw
© AFP

Russia's newly-appointed Italian coach Fabio Capello recorded a 1-1 draw in his debut match with the country's national team, a friendly against Côte d'Ivoire.

CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev scored for Russia, while Saint-Etienne's Max Gradel was on target for the visitors to record a draw in the two teams' first-ever head-to-head meeting.

"It was a very uneasy match as Ivory Coast have a set of very strong players in their line-up," Capello said. "I'm really pleased with the Russian team's performance. I knew the team is strong but today I've got more proof of that.

"I had a precious opportunity to test young players against strong rivals. Some of them made a debut performance today and I'm glad that now they have a chance for further development."

I'm really pleased with the Russian team's performance.
Fabio Capello, Russia coach

Russia took to the pitch at Moscow's Lokomotiv arena without forward Andrei Arshavin but looked more confident and began testing a Côte d'Ivoire defence marshalled by goalkeeper Daniel Yeboah from the start.

Roman Pavlyuchenko had a chance to put Russia in front in the 11th minute but his powerful free-kick was confidently stopped by Yeboah.

After the 20th minute, the guests, who looked physically much stronger than the hosts, grabbed the initiative and replied with a series of attacks down the right sparked by Gradel and Kader Keita but to no immediate avail.

Ivorian captain Didier Drogba was also awarded a mid-range free-kick in the 22nd minute but his shot went just inches wide off the right post.

Dzagoev breaks the deadlock
Russia took the initiative back after the half-hour mark, pinning the visitors back, but failed to create any serious threat before the break.

After the interval, Russia still looked in command and in the 55th minute Dzagoev put the hosts 1-0 up, firing the ball into the left corner of Yeboah's net with a well-struck free-kick.

The Ivorians poured forward seeking an equaliser and, in the 68th minute, Manchester City midfielder Abdul Razak had a clear chance, but his powerful shot from just outside the six-yard box came back off the woodwork.

But in the 77th minute, Gradel levelled, sending home a rebound with a close-range header after his initial header hit the crossbar. Chances fell to both sides in the closing stages but neither was able to conjure a winner.