It looked a lot like Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was going to be the goat of this one. He allowed a goal in the 68th minute that, frankly, should not have gotten through, but Aleksandr Kerzhakov was able to answer just a few minutes later to get Akinfeev off the hook.
For the most part, at least.
This is a game that Russia needed to solidify their chances of moving through. But long stretches of uninspired play kept the Russians from positioning themselves well in Group H.
Earlier, Belgium beat Algeria 2-1 to jump to the head of the group.
The game was mostly dry, with flashes of excitement primarily in the second half. South Korea struck first when Chung-Yong Lee's shot from distance slipped through Akinfeev's fingers.
Russia answered shortly thereafter, but neither team could put together a solid attack in the final 20 minutes.
Below is the blow-by-blow of Tuesday's match.
FINAL: Russia 1 (Kerzhakov 74') - South Korea 1 (Lee 68')
94' -- Russia had what appears to be their last chance -- a good one, too -- but the shot sails well over the net.
87' -- Boy, things have slowed significantly since that burst of excitement. Both teams apparently content to keep the ball in the midfield.
74' -- And Russia answers! On a personal level, I must admit I'm pretty relieved -- I was feeling pretty bad for Akinfeev.
Anyway, Kerzhakov came on just three minutes earlier, then he banged home a shot through a host of bodies in the box. Looks like Andrey Eshchenko took one in the kisser, too.
68' -- And there it is. Akinfeev has been shaky for Russia in goal all night, and he allows Keun-Ho Lee's shot to literally slip right through his fingers. Ugh. His reaction is pretty hard to see.
62' -- Another decent chance for South Korea, but the header lacks pace and is easily turned away. Russia answers with a strike from Dmitry Kombarov that's stopped in the net. A welcomed burst of excitement after a few minutes of hand-fighting.
57' -- GREAT chance for South Korea on a free kick, as Akinfeev mishandles the ball in front of the net. Nobody home for South Korea, though, so we remain scoreless.
51' -- South Korea with another chance -- this one defended somewhat better by Igor Akinfeev in goal.
50' -- South Korea answers with a try from distance that the Russian keeper deflects awkwardly away.
46' -- Russia very much on the attack early in the second half, but two chances go just wide. The second, a header from Vasily Berezutskiy, went into the side of the net and produced that embarrassing roar that the crowd with the bad angle makes when they think their side has scored but, in reality, the ball is just bounding harmlessly out of bounds.
Halftime: This may be hard to believe, but chances are one of these two teams will move through to the knockout stage. Russia has looked really, really sloppy, and it seems South Korea will break through before Russia. Still, neither side has really put together much inspiring play.
45' -- South Korea has held possession for much of the latter portion of the second half, but they've not generated many chances.
39' -- Another great chance, this one for South Korea's Heung-Min Son blasts it well high. And far. In fact, it may still be in the air.
34' -- South Korea answers with a near goal off a deflected Koo Ja-Cheol shot, then the corner is spoiled. But both sides are pushing the pace and making this one -- dare I say -- exciting!
33' -- Couple of great chances by the wayside for Russia. First a free kick stopped then a shot sails wide.
28' -- Two soccer balls were on the field momentarily! That would have made things waaaaaaay more interesting.
27' -- Russia wastes a corner -- decent chance from distance gets blocked -- but there is hope for a goal at some point.
Russia has scored at least one goal in 10 straight matches dating back to a 1-0 shutout loss to Northern Ireland in August #RUSvsKOR— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2014
25' -- Still mostly sloppy on both ends. Not a scoring chance to be had. Thrilling, I know.
17' -- Play has opened up somewhat, with South Korea getting the best looks at goal.
9' -- Indicative of the play so far, there was a battle on the sideline for the ball, and both sides claimed ownership of the ensuing throw...except the ball sat harmlessly, untouched in bounds.
South Korea has since had a couple nice chances but nothing on goal.
7' -- Neither side has put anything substantial together offensively, though the Russia has been on the attack for the majority of the early going. Regardless, neither team has even threatened the opposing keeper.
4' -- Loose possession thus far from both sides, which, I suppose, is to be expected given the fact they're the last two teams to play. Still, pretty sloppy.
1' -- And the last two teams to take the field in the World Cup are underway. To commemorate, here's this dude.
5:50 p.m. ET: This game almost became important, but Belgium ended up completing its comeback and beating Algeria earlier Tuesday. So, yeah, this one doesn't hold too much weight, however the winner -- if there is a winner -- will be in prime position to move through to the knockout stage.
Here are the starting lineups:
Russia: Akinfeev, Ignashevich, Glushakov, Kokorin, Berezutskiy (c), Shatov, Zhirkov, Samedov, Fayzulin, Eshchenko, Kombarov
South Korea: S R Jung, S Y Yun, Y G Kim, H M Son, C Y Park, Y Lee, J C Koo (c), K Y Han, S Y Ki, C Y Lee, J H Hong
South Korea vs. Russia (Group H) | Kickoff: 6/17, 6 p.m. ET | Stadium: Pantanal, Cuiaba
Match Preview: Though the names don't inspire much historical excitement in the international soccer realm, the match between South Korea and Russia Tuesday could determine which team joins Belgium in the knockout round from Group H.
Aside from those three, Algeria will be battling to make it through.
Both sides have had issues leading up to the Cup. For Russia, it's the injury to star midfielder Roman Shirokov, who was lost to a back injury. For South Korea it has been mostly subpar play. They lost to this Russia team in a friendly back in November and were smoked by Ghana 4-0 in Miami.