• Kazakhstan and Latvia fail to find the net in their Group A opener
• Tanat Nusserbayev and Dmitri Shomko miss good openings for the hosts
• Andrejs Kovaļovs hits the crossbar for Latvia
• Next games: Latvia v Iceland, Netherlands v Kazakhstan (10 October)
Kazakhstan and Latvia opened their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaigns with a goalless draw in Astana.
After a quiet opening ten minutes, Tanat Nusserbayev was the first to threaten, testing visiting goalkeeper Aleksandrs Koļinko from 20 metres after a neat exchange of passes had cut open the Latvia midfield.
Kazakhstan remained on the front foot and Anatoli Bogdanov looped another effort over from outside the penalty area before the hosts got behind the Latvia defence for the first time only for captain Nusserbayev to volley wide at the front post.
Dmitri Shomko squandered the best chance of the half for Kazakhstan, driving a bouncing cross over the bar at the back post after Sergei Khizhnichenko's delivery from the right found its way through the area.
Latvia's forward line never got into their stride and had only Artjoms Rudņevs's tame effort from 30 metres to show for their toil before the break. It was a similar story after the interval until, out of nowhere, they conjured a slick one-touch passing move that sent Vladislavs Gabovs clean through but the No6 shot straight at Andrei Sidelnikov.
That seemed to energise Marians Pahars' men and moments later Andrejs Kovaļovs unleashed a dipping strike which thumped against the crossbar. That was the closest either side would come as the chances dried up in the closing stages with both teams seemingly happy to settle for a point.
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