Moscow: Anzhi Makhachkala debutant Samuel Eto'o saved the day for his new club by scoring an equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw at Rostov in the Russian Premier League on Saturday.
The 30-year-old came on as a substitute in the 57th minute, prompting great excitement in Rostov's 17,000-seater stadium, where 1,500 Anzhi fans had travelled to witness their new favourite's first appearance.
"It was not an easy game," said Anzhi manager Gadzhi Gadzhiev.
"I think Rostov were playing beyond themselves, so we needed to give all we had to avoid a defeat."
Belarus midifelder Timofei Kalachev put Rostov 1-0 up in the 72nd minute, beating Anzhi goalkeeper Nukri Revishvili with a well-struck 25-yard free-kick inside the left-hand post.
Though Eto'o initially failed to produce anything spectacular, his mere presence put pressure on Rostov by forcing two of the hosts' defenders to stay back to keep him under constant close observation.
But their efforts were all in vain as in the 80th minute Eto'o levelled, firing into the net from the edge of the six-yard box after Yuri Zhirkov dribbled into the box and teed up the Cameroon captain.
"I think a draw is a fair result," said Rostov coach Sergei Balakhnin.
"We would have needed to play much better to win. We still have a lot of homework to do to improve our play."
Eto'o is the most decorated player in African history, having won the Champions League three times - twice with Barcelona and once with Inter Milan.
Press reports said that his transfer from Inter cost Anzhi 21 million euros ($30m).
The four-time African player of the year also won three league titles with Barca and one with Inter, while with Cameroon he has twice won the Africa Cup of Nations.
In the other Russian Premier League matches on Saturday, the league's rookie side Volga Nizhny Novgorod beat Terek Grozny 3-1, while Tomsk and Amkar Perm recorded a goalless draw.