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No love from Russia for U.S. men's soccer team

Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2000

MOSCOW -- The U.S. men's soccer team can't beat Russia, no matter where they play.

Russia extended its unbeaten streak against the United States to four games Wednesday with a 2-0 victory in the teams' first meeting in Russia.

Igor Titov broke a scoreless tie with 18 minutes left on a pass from his Moscow Spartak club teammate Andrei Tikhonov, and Valery Karpin added an insurance goal two minutes into injury time at Dynamo Stadium.

Russia improved to 3-0-1 against the United States, which wasted several first-half scoring opportunities in falling to 3-2-2 overall this year.

In the 24th minute, midfielder Claudio Reyna found himself one-on-one with Russian goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin, who came out of his net to clear the threat. Midfielders Eddie Lewis and Cobi Jones both missed chances in the 33rd minute after a goal-mouth scramble.

Seconds later, Russian striker Vladimir Beschastnykh's header hit the right post of the U.S. goal.

It was Nigmatullin's debut with the national team, and U.S. coach Bruce Arena called the goalkeeper the game's best player.

Arena said his team had played well but done a poor job of finishing its chances. ''We were missing some of our strikers and a couple of other good players, but that's not an excuse,'' he said.

Russian coach Oleg Romantsev said his players started slowly but eventually met the challenge.

''Unfortunately my players didn't share my opinion before the game that the U.S. has a powerful team,'' he said. ''Only after we scored the first goal did we start to show the game we played to win six consecutive games last year.''

It was Russia's first victory in three exhibition games this year. The team has tried a different lineup each outing.



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