Fabio Capello threw his support behind goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev after the self-confessed "kids" error very nearly spiked his 68th birthday celebrations and Russia's return to the FIFA World Cup™ after a 12-year absence. Capello watched on as Akinfeev let Lee Keun-Ho's 30 metre shot slip into the net to give South Korea the lead in the Group H clash in Cuiaba.
Akinfeev's blushes were spared when Alexander Kerzhakov levelled three minutes after coming on to earn a 1-1 draw against the 2002 semi-finalists.
"Just like some players can miss penalties it can happen that a keeper makes a mistake as well," said Capello. "You can accept a mistake from a great keeper like Akinfeev. Today it turned out fine as we were able to make up the difference. I'm very happy with Akinfeev."
The keeper himself cut a contrite figure after the final whistle at the Arena Pantanal. "It was a kid's mistake and I bare full responsibility," he admitted. "I can't say that it was because of worry."
You can accept a mistake from a great keeper like Akinfeev.
Akinfeev added: "Maybe I wasn't sure in myself, I don't know. The guys supported me. I say thanks. The goalkeeper of the national team shouldn't make mistakes like this one."
After a cautious start, Korea's goal awoke Capello's side and the Italian expressed his delight at the reaction of his players.
"My players showed a wonderful reaction after we conceded the goal," said the man in charge of England at the last World Cup. "We were so nervous at the start, the players weren't as smooth as normal but it was visible after the Korean goal that we sprung right back and played like we know how to."
He added: "It was the greatest birthday gift I could receive, this means the team is willing, capable and can do it."