Harambee Stars missed a chance to secure a memorable victory against Russia after drawing with the European nation 2-2 in a friendly match in Turkey on Monday.
In what would have been a first loss for Russia since November 2021, Kenya put in a gallant performance after withstanding an early storm.
The Russians got off the blocks first, laying siege at Kenya’s goal and winning two corners in quick succession while they denied Engin Firat’s men possession in the first eight minutes.
Joseph Okumu was caught out in his attempt to play out from the back with his pass intercepted before Spartak Moscow striker Alexander Sobolev slotted home unmarked in the box to break the deadlock.
Stars then received the next blow as goalkeeper Bryne Odhiambo was stretchered off just moments later after appearing to have pulled his hamstring when kicking a ball before he was replaced by Patrick Matasi.
Kenya then calmed down and started forward runs and it is from one of this that they got the equaliser.
Anthony Akumu pressed the Russia defence and intercepted a weak pass from goalkeeper Ilya Pomazun after which he passed to Michael Olunga.
Olunga then returned the ball via a rebound which fell to Akumu and the Sogan Tosu midfielder fired home to level matters in the 18th minute.
The Harambee Stars captain should have created Kenya’s second goal in the 34th minute but opted to shoot instead of passing to Masoud Juma who had made a good run towards goal.
However, Juma got on the scoresheet four minutes later when he scored Kenya’s second goal. A ball was floated into the Russia box which was punched out by Pomazun but it fell back to the Kenyans who returned it and Juma slotted home.
The striker appeared to be in an offside position but the ball had hit a Russia player on its way, seeing the goal given to Kenya.
Olunga should have extended Kenya’s lead on the stroke of halftime when he showed good centre-forward play to slot in between the defenders to win the ball and with only the goalkeeper to beat, he fired inches wide.
Kenya went into the break holding onto their lead and returned determined to keep their advantage.
Firat’s men slowed the game down but had to withstand pressure from the Russia. Matasi would pull off a great save to keep Kenya’s advantage as they stood firm but Russia scored a late goal to share the spoils.
Russia’s late pressure paid off as they weaved their way into Kenya’s defence before substitute Ivan Oblyakov scored past Matasi for a share of the spoils as the 2018 World Cup quarter-finalists escaped what would have been a first loss since November 14, 2021 when they lost 2-1 to Croatia.