CUIABA, Brazil - Backed by cautious defense on both sides, South Korea and Russia made their World Cup debut with the second draw of the day on Tuesday, 1-1, in the final opener here in Brazil.
Hours after Brazil and Mexico of Group A finished a scoreless draw, South Korea's Lee Keun-ho, a second-half substitute, and Russia's Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored late in the second half.
Both sides appeared to take conservative approaches for the first half, avoiding long balls or risky passes.
It was Russia's return to the World Cup after a 12-year drought.
Korea has not lost an opening match since 1998, having won each of its openers in the past three World Cups.
The victory gives Russia and Korea each one point in Group H.
Belgium toppled Algeria 2-1 earlier in the day to get the three-point head start in the group standings. The Fennec Foxes' Sofiane Feghouli converted a penalty in the first half before the Red Devils' Kevin de Bruyne equalized in the second and Dries Mertens secured the win.
Korea returns to its base camp in Foz do Iguacu on Wednesday morning.
In the group's second round, Korea and Algeria face off in Porto Alegre while Belgium and Russia go head to head in Rio de Janeiro on June 22. The third and final round commences on June 26.