Russian Premier League – Week 22 Review

Andre Villas-Boas took control of Zenit for the first time.

Andre Villas-Boas took control of Zenit for the first time.

With no side taking charge of the top spot, the title race continues to hot up as AVB took charge of Zenit for the first time against Krylya. Elsewhere Spartak started life without Valeri Karpin, Amkar’s Stanislav Cherchesov has been linked with the job. With only eight games left of the season, we were treated to twenty-three goals and quite a few entertaining games.

Late drama sees the weekend start off with a bang. 

The best place to start this week was the first game of the weekend, Rostov hosted high flying Amkar. Only the one place separates the two sides but there’s a points gap of six points between them. Dzyuba almost got Rostov off to a fantastic start, he benefited from some early hesitation at the back but he could only knock the ball wide. Amkar certainly didn’t waste any time grabbing the lead after that, they opened the scoring two minutes after Dzyuba’s early chance. Georgiev’s cross from the left found Jakubko and the Slovakian laid the ball off to Wawrzyniak, his drilled effort was too powerful for Pletikosa to keep out. Rostov were level 14 minutes later, Amkar failed to get the ball clear and they were punished. Ananidze played a lovely ball through ball to Kalachev and the midfielder took his chance with ease, drilling his shot across goal and into the bottom corner. Jakubko grabbed his second assist of the game and the season in the 28th minute as he flicked the ball through to Ogude. The Nigerian finished excellently from a tough angle but his third goal in three games certainly should have been saved by Pletikosa.

Things got better for the visitors shortly after the break when they grabbed their third. Jakubko at the heart of things once again, this time with a delightful back heel down the line for Kanunnikov. Kanunnikov’s cross was met by Kolomeytsev who tucked the ball past Pletikosa. Things certainly looked over for the home side, especially as they’d only scored two goals in their last seven home games. Rostov were given a little bit of hope in the 72nd minute when Wawrzyniak received his second yellow card of the game. With hardly anytime left, Rostov did the unthinkable, two goals in a minute. In the 89th minute Poloz cut in from the left to find Kalachev, who played a nicely weighted first time pass to Dzyuba and the clubs top goalscorer cooly finished to set up a nervy end to the game. In the 90th minute, Nikitin completely missed the ball as he tried to clear, this allowed Sinama-Pongolle through on goal but he was denied by Narubin. Poloz picked up the ball and played it back towards the penalty spot, finding Djakov and the centre back smashed his shot past three defenders and Narubin, sending his fans into ecstasy. Both sides stay where they are in the table and they both extend their unbeaten runs to 3 games, both haven’t tasted defeat since returning from the winter break, one victory and two draws.

Who wants to win the title? 

Krasnodar run riot as they demolished Karpin-less Spartak. Things haven’t been good for Spartak since the winter break and they’ll need to turn things around quickly if they want to finish in Europe. Krasnodar started in fantastic fashion and Ari didn’t mess about with his old club in town, Jędrzejczyk’s cross found Ari running into the box and the ex-Spartak man fired excellently across goal and into the bottom corner. Ari grabbed his second five minutes later, Shirokov’s long ball found him and the striker dinked the ball over Rebrov who came flying out of his goal, before lobbing his effort over João Carlos. Things got even worse for Spartak before half time, Joãozinho passed to Wanderson on the edge of the area and Krasnodar’s top scorer curled his shot brilliantly into the bottom right corner. If the game wasn’t over, it certainly was five minutes after the break. Shirokov played an inch perfect ball over the top to Ari and he wrapped up an excellent hat-trick by lobbing the ball over Rebrov once again. The closest Spartak came to scoring was in the 58th minute, Costa’s curling effort from range beat Sinitsyn but was denied by the crossbar. A game to forget for Spartak as they struggled to cause problems for Krasnodar, who had no trouble tearing Spartak’s feeble defence apart.

The league leaders keep their three point lead at the top with a comfortable victory over Ural. N’Doye missed a fantastic chance early on, Maicon put the ball on a plate for the striker but he couldn’t beat Zabolotnyi, the keeper making a great stop. Lokomotiv took the lead in the 13th minute, Boussoufa’s cross found it’s way past Zabolotnyi, who was left rooted to the spot after a deflection off Belozerov’s head. One minute later and it was 2-0. Denisov launched a massive throw through to N’Doye, the Senegalese striker struck it first time and into the far corner. Lokomotiv had a number chances to make it 3-0 but they almost conceded in the 68th minute, Manucharyan produced a great effort from his freekick and Abaev was forced into making a terrific save. Lokomotiv’s third was rather fortunate, Yanbayev’s pass was straight to Fidler but he smashed it against Manucharyan and the ball fell nicely for Tkachev to control and seal the points for the railroaders. Belozerov rounded off an awful day at the office in the 88th minute when he blocked off Tkachev to pick up his second booking. Despite not having the most possession Lokomotiv showed their class as Fabio Capello watched from the stands.

CSKA Moscow built on last week’s victory against Zenit by breezing past Anzhi. Both sides had chances but it was CSKA that managed to find the breakthrough. Mário Fernandes’ great cross found Doumbia and the man from the Ivory Coast managed to finish at the second time of asking, after his diving header was kept out by Kerzhakov. Anzhi should’ve gone into the break level, Aliyev’s freekick came off the post and fell to Grigalava, despite being only a few yards out he somehow put his chance wide. CSKA doubled their lead shortly after half time, Musa playing a lovely pass with the outside of his foot, through two defenders to find Doumbia, once again he took his chance with ease. Doumbia returned the assist later on in the game, delightfully flicking the ball through to Musa and the Nigerian comfortably grabbed his sixth goal of the season. Anzhi have continued to show positive signs since the winter break, but this week they couldn’t cope with the threat of Doumbia and Musa.

Lodygin's heroics gives Zenit all three points.

Lodygin’s heroics gave Zenit all three points.

AVB starts his Zenit reign with a win, largely due to Lodygin’s heroics. Zenit started strongly, in the second minute Criscito turned his marker and found Danny with a lovely cross into the box, however the Portuguese midfielder missed his glorious chance. Zenit opened the scoring in the 5th minute, Hulk played a great through ball to Kerzhakov but the striker was brought down in the box by Taranov. Hulk stepped up and hammered his spot kick past Veremko. Krylya come close on two occasions but they couldn’t stop Zenit adding to their one goal lead. Seven minutes after the break Hulk scored his second of the game but Veremko won’t want to see it again anytime soon. The Brazilian skipped past a defender before playing the ball across goal and it somehow found it’s way under Veremko and across the line. Krylya responded brilliantly after Hulk’s second, Yatchenko’s cross was flicked on by Caballero and the unmarked Tsallagov managed to smash his shot past Lodygin. Krylya could have won this game 3-2 but for Lodygin who saved two penalties, Caballero went to Lodygin’s right and the keeper guessed correctly and reacted well to stop Dragun’s follow up. Caballero then had another chance to beat Lodygin from the spot but the keeper once again guessed correctly and Zenit were able to see out the win.

Dinamo were left frustrated in a goalless draw with Rubin. Dinamo almost grabbed an early lead, Zhirkov’s freekick from the left was met by Samba and the centre back’s header grazed the top of the bar, Ryzhikov was beaten had it been on target. Both sides had a number of chances throughout an entertaining first half but they both had the same problem, they lacked composure in the final third. Dinamo started to control the game more and more as the game went on, but the story stayed the same, they couldn’t hit the target and when they did Ryzhikov dealt with it comfortably. It was a surprise to see this end goalless and Dinamo will certainly believe this was a big chance wasted.

The Rest.

Tom’ Tomsk climbed up to 12th with a hard fought win over free-falling Volga. The two sides couldn’t be separated till injury time, both only hit the target twice and only going close to scoring with shots from range. The winning goal came in the 91st minute, a Tom freekick in their own half was punted forward, a flick on found Ignatovich and fortunately his scuffed shot bounced straight to Holenda, who tucked the ball under Komarov. Volga continue to lose and they don’t look like turning it around.

Terek recover from last weeks disappointment to defeat struggling Kuban. Terek were able to take the lead when Kaboré pushed over Aílton Almeida and he was the one that stepped up to excellently convert the spot kick. Kuban came close to leveling things when Kaboré clipped a lovely ball towards the back post and he successfully found Manolev, but the Bulgarian couldn’t make the most of his chance as he fired his volley against the post. Terek made it 2-0 in the 59th minute, Rybus whipped in a quality corner and Komorowski was there to direct his header into the far corner. Kuban pulled a goal back in the 66th minute, Popov playing a brilliant long ball over the top to Melgarejo. Melgarejo brought the ball down brilliantly before quickly lobbing the ball over Godzyur. A deserved victory for the hosts and they could have won this be a couple more.

Goal of the Week.

A fantastic long ball pass from Popov is excellently brought down by Melgarejo before he delightfully lobs Godzyur. Sadly for Kuban the goal didn’t spark a comeback for them. Ari’s second goal and Wanderson’s against Spartak are also worth a look.

(Skip to 2.11 for the goal)

 

Player of the Week.

This week’s award was a tough one. Lodygin came close due to his fantastic goalkeeping performance for Zenit, Wanderson and Shirokov weren’t far off after their roles in Krasnodar’s impressive victory. This week’s award will be going to another Krasnodar player, Ari. The Brazilian lead the line brilliantly and scored an impressive hat-trick against his former side. Ari had five attempts on goal, two went off target and the three that were on target all went in. Ari also showed a lot of class and respect for his old club, refusing to celebrate his goals.

League Table and Results.

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