Week 20 marked the return of the Russian Premier League as we finally welcome teams back from the lengthy winter break. The 8 games provided us with 18 goals, a few shocks, a new league leader and results which have seen the relegation and Europe fights hot up, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
FC Krasnodar 0-1 Ural
The first game back from the winter break saw second from bottom Ural travel to Krasnodar to face a FC Krasnodar side pushing to qualify for Europe. Krasnodar enjoyed the most of possession throughout this game but ultimately they were let down by a lack of composure in front of goal, only managing to hit the target twice out of their fourteen attempts. Ural weren’t any better in front of goal as they could only managed the one shot on target, that one shot on target was the difference between the two sides. In the 19th minute Krasnodar failed to clear from the corner, this allowed Fidler to rob Joãozinho of possession before Acevedo took over and smashed a left footed shot towards goal, which flew Filtsov, who was helpless as the shot bounced off the ground due to a deflection.
Krasnodar continued to push for a way back into the game and they came close on a few occasions. Firstly Wanderson played a teasing ball across the box, but Wanderson and Ari weren’t able to make any contract as the ball flashed past. In the 51st minute Pereyra was brilliantly found by Mamaev, but the Uruguayan’s effort flew across goal. Krasnodar huffed and puffed but they couldn’t find the goal and Ural came away with a vital victory, which meant they closed the gap to the sides above them.
Terek Grozny 1-0 Spartak Moscow
Terek didn’t waste anytime against Spartak, they grabbed the lead after just 34 seconds into the game. Ivanov chipped the ball into the box, Lebedenko flicked the ball on and Maurício managed to chip the ball into the corner after beating Mitryushkin to the flick on. The game was low on chances after that and both keepers weren’t forced into much action. Despite having more possession Spartak weren’t able to create enough chances and they could only hit the target on two occasions. A valurable victory for Terek in their fight against the drop and only time will tell weather this result will cost Spartak as Dinamo snap at their heels.
Dinamo Moscow 4-2 CSKA Moscow
The game most would’ve looked forward to this weekend and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It didn’t take long before CSKA were celebrating, a fantastic individual goal from Doumbia sent their fans wild. Doumbia ran past three players before striking just outside the area, his effort was helped into the bottom corner by a deflection off Lomić. This was an even game, but Dinamo had a mountain to climb in the second half thanks to Doumbia’s second just before half time. Dzagoev teased Samba with his stepovers before picking out Doumbia, the striker had a poor first touch but managed to bend the ball with the outside of his foot and into corner.
Whatever Petrescu said at half time it worked brilliantly, it took Dinamo just 4 minutes to pull a goal back. Zhirkov crossed brilliantly to find Kuranyi, who headed powerfully past Akinfeev. Samba scored the equalizer 10 minutes later, again it was another brilliant cross from the left, this time it was Lomić, Samba met the cross and his header flew past Akinfeev and into the top corner. The centre back was forced off after injuring his head when scoring the goal. Dinamo didn’t mess about once getting level, three minutes later they had the lead. Another cross set up the goal, this time from the right, Dzsudzsák’s cross made its way over everyone after a collision in the box, unmarked Zhirkov smashed his shot past Akinfeev. Zhirkov doubled his tally in the 68th minute, Akinfeev made a shocking mistake as he tired to pass the ball back to Mário Fernandes but he gave it straight to Zhirkov. To make things a little worse Zhirkov then chipped the ball over the CSKA keeper before tapping into the empty net and wrapping up the three points. A remarkable comeback from Dinamo and an important victory as they close in on Spartak and open the gap between them and CSKA.
Anzhi 1-0 Rubin Kazan
A closely fought battle between two sides that have had tough seasons and both sets of fans seeing plenty of changes. This was Rinat Bilyaletdinov’s first competitive game in charge of Rubin Kazan since taking over from the long serving Kurban Berdyev. Rubin handed debuts to five players, Mullin and Nurov both came off the bench, while Dević, Burlak and Mogilevets all played 90 minutes. Anzhi handed debuts to Smolov, Aliyev and Bukharov, while Bilyaletdinov and Bystrov both made debuts off the bench. Both teams had opputunities to score in the first half, Karadeniz coming the closest for Rubin when his freekick was palmed away by Kerzhakov. the Anzhi keeper did well to stop the shot going into the top corner. Smolov missed a few good chances throughout the game but none as golden as his chance in the 70th minute. Smolov was left unmarked and from 10 yards out he put his shot into the ground and wide.
The game finally had a breakthrough in the 84th minute. Anzhi worked the ball well from the throw in and when the ball was pulled back to Serderov, he did brilliantly to find Bukharov lurking unmarked at the back post and the Zenit loanee didn’t have any problems sticking the ball in from close range. Rubin failed to get back into the game, the best chance of an equalizer fell to Nurov after some nervous defending from the hosts, unfortunately for the youngster and Rubin his shot was blocked and Anzhi held on to grab their first win of the season.
Zenit St. Petersburg 0-0 Tom’ Tomsk
Zenit were held to a goalless draw by a very hard working Tom’ Tomsk side. Despite having the most of possession and much more quality, Zenit were unable to create enough clear cut chances and they were left frustrated. Tom’ Tomsk had the first real chance of the game, having spent the first 10 minutes under a lot of pressure Ignatovich had a great chance to score, however he was forced to play the ball back to Holenda, who was denied by Lodygin’s outstretched arm. Zenit’s best chance of the half (maybe the game) was in the 38th minute when Hulk produced a delightful ball to the back post which found Rondón, the former Rubin striker could only direct his header just past the far post. Tom’ Tomsk continued to frustrate Zenit in the second half and they didn’t just park the bus either, they too pushed for a breakthrough and they weren’t far off doing so. Rykov came close with a shot from distance, his shot almost catching out Lodygin. Bazhenov almost snatched a late winner for the away side but again it was Lodygin that kept them out, Bazhenov was played through and Lodygin reacted well to get down to save.
Amkar Perm’ 5-1 Volga
Amkar destroyed Volga, who were the only side in the bottom 5 that lost. Volga got off to the worst start and they didn’t recover. After just 4 minutes Kolomeytsev picked out Picuşceac, the Moldovan laid the ball off to Ogude and the Nigerian started life at Amkar with a bang, curling the ball past Pareiko. Kolomeytsev came very close to adding to Amkar’s early goal when he was picked out by a great Sirakov cross, Kolomeytsev’s volley struck the post before being put out of play by Polczak. Volga surprisingly found a way back into the game, taking full advantage of a set piece. Volga’s Jamaican striker, Shelton poked the ball in when he was found free at the back post from Karyaka’s corner. Volga will be disappointed they couldn’t stay level for long, it only took Amkar 6 minutes to get back infront. Sirakov was brought down in the box by Aldonin who made an awful attempt to win the ball, Amkar’s Peev stepped up and easily converted sending Pareiko the wrong way.
There wasn’t much action in the second half, but Amkar came to life with just over 10 minutes remaining. Georgiev’s corner was met by the head of Ogude and the Nigerian added to his first half goal, guiding his header towards the far corner before hitting the post on it’s way in. Georgiev was the provider again in the 88th minute, his lovely ball into the box was met by Kanunnikov to head past Pareiko, Volga’s keeper wasn’t able to get to the cross first. The scoring was rounded off by Volga’s Kowalczyk, the defender slid in to clear a dangerous Kanunnikov cross but he could only direct the ball past his own keeper.
Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 Krylya Sovetov
Lokomotiv went into the game knowing that a win would make them the new league leaders and they delivered. They took the lead in the 17th minute, Denisov provided an excellent cross from the left, the cross was perfectly put onto N’Doye’s head and the striker easily headed home. N’Doye almost and should have got his second of the game when he was played through by Tkachev, he managed to chip the ball over Veremko, however the ball could only find the side netting.
The second half was to be much more entertaining. Both keepers were forced into making a few good saves. Tsallagov came close for Krylya, Abaev made a great save and then caught the follow up. N’Doye pulled the ball back to Tkachev and his volley from the edge of the area was heading into the bottom corner but for a great Veremko save. Lokomotiv scored their second in the 77th minute, great work from Pavlyuchenko as he robbed Amisulashvili with his slide tackle and played a lovely weighted ball through to Ozdoev, the substitute drilled his shot into the bottom corner. Late on Krylya fans were given something to cheer about when Caballero came in from the left before laying the ball off to Dragun, the midfielder unleashed a fantastic strike which flew into the top corner. It was a comfortable victory for the league leaders and they’ll be hoping to hold this position till the end of the season.
Rostov 0-0 Kuban’ Krasnodar
The last game of the weekend was rather dull as both sides struggled to hit the target. This was an even game and in the end it was a fair result, the game lacked quality, which both teams can provide. The most action we had was right at the end when Melgarejo was sent off in the 93rd minute, his second booking was a harsh one and one that Kuban certainly weren’t happy about.