Bukharov saves Russia in first Sochi match

Russia's forward Alexander Bukharov scores a goal past Belgium's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during an international friendly football match between Russia and Belgium at the Fisht Arena in Sochi on March 28, 2017

Alexander Bukharov netted an injury-time equaliser as Russia battled back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Belgium in the first ever match at Sochi's Fisht Arena on Tuesday.

Bukharov and Alexei Miranchuk came off the bench to cancel out the visitors' two-goal lead after Everton forward Kevin Mirallas scored from the spot and Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke added a first-half brace.

CSKA Moscow defender Viktor Vasin had given Russia an early lead.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said he was largely pleased with his team's performance, but expressed disappointment at their inability to close out the match.

"Russia played the 3-5-2 system in recent matches," he said. "We've found the way to play againt such a scheme. We performed well in the first 70 minutes.

"But of course it's completely wrong to lose a two-goal advantage. I'm disappointed with our peformance in the last 20 minutes."

The result sweetened a bitter pill for the Russian fans after the country's team hit a new low on Friday with a first ever defeat to an African team -- a 2-0 loss to Ivory Coast.

That was coach Stanislav Cherchesov's third defeat in six matches since taking over in August -- the other two coming against Costa Rica and Qatar last year.

And it had raised questions about the ability of Russia, ranked 60th by FIFA, to compete among the elite with the Confederations Cup just three months away and the World Cup -- for which they qualify automatically as hosts -- next year.

Russia, spurred on by a capacity 43,700 crowd, got off to a flying start after just three minutes as Dmitry Kombarov redirected a left wing free-kick by Alexander Samedov to Vasin, who sent the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box.

The visitors pinned the home team back and Mirallas equalised with a 17th-minute spot-kick after Roman Neustadter fouled Benteke in the area.

Benteke then scored twice within the space of three minutes following defensive slip-ups to give Belgium a commanding 3-1 lead at half-time.

After the interval the visitors, fifth in the FIFA rankings, took their foot off the gas, allowing Lokomotiv Moscow's Miranchuk to reduce the arrears after a one-two with Bukharov 16 minutes from time.

Rostov forward Bukharov then beat Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from eight yards out in the second minute of stoppage time to save the day for the hosts.

"Today we showed strong character," Miranchuk said. "In the future we should act in a similar way, we shouldn't be afraid of anybody. We proved that in the second half today."