Russian Premier League – Week 23 Review

This weekend didn’t throw up many surprises but the lack of upsets certainly didn’t mean a lack of talking points. Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit edge away from the chasing pack, things at the bottom continue to get interesting and the Krasnodar Derby arrived once more as FC Krasnodar looked to avenge their derby disappointment earlier in the season.

The Krasnodar Derby

Both fans provided us with some terrific displays before and during the game.

Both fans provided us with some terrific displays before and during the game.

I’ll save you the wait and get right into the Krasnodar derby. Earlier in the season Kuban defeated Krasnodar 2-1 thanks to goals from Popov and Bucur but it was Krasnodar that went into the game as favourites. This derby is a new one but both clubs showed signs that they didn’t like each other, Krasnodar committed 25 fouls, which was the most committed  by any team this weekend. Kuban also committed plenty, 23 fouls which was only matched by Amkar and Volga.

Kuban almost got off to the best possible start. In the second minute the left back Bugaev unleashed a fantastic strike on goal, his effort struck the crossbar and almost found it’s way in via the foot of Sinitsyn, luckily for the Krasnodar keeper it went just wide of the post. Kuban finally managed to get the breakthrough in the 14th minute, Kaboré’s freekick was met by Melgarejo, who’s header was well saved by Sinitsyn but the keeper couldn’t keep out Melgarejo’s follow up. Krasnodar came close to leveling things three minutes later, a poor freekick delivery was flicked on brilliantly into the path of Ari but last weeks hattrick hero was denied by an outstanding Belenov save. Ari was left frustrated once more in the 19th minute, he was one-on-one with Belenov but his cheeky attempt to knock the ball past the keeper was stopped by Belenov’s quick reactions. Kuban had two great chances after the half an hour mark, both falling to Melgarejo who was quite a handful for the Krasnodar back line. Krasnodar leveled things four minutes before the break, Shirokov grabbing his first goal for the club. Kaboré was robbed in midfield and Krasnodar quickly broke through Kuban’s defence, Wanderson playing the ball to Ari, who easily skipped past Xandão before squaring the ball to Shirokov for an easy tap in.

Krasnodar continued their momentum into the second half and just six minutes in they had the lead. Joãozinho played the ball across to Ari who was making his way towards the area and before you knew it the ball was in the back of the net. Ari drilled his effort first time and Belenov didn’t have much chance of saving his fifth goal of the season. Belenov was forced into making save after save as Krasnodar looked to improve on their one goal lead, despite Belenov’s resistance Krasnodar were finally able to double their lead in the 79th minute. Shirokov played in Wanderson, but Belenov was there to deny him but he couldn’t doing anything about the rebound, Shirokov drifted into the box unmarked to smash in his second goal of the night. It was a huge victory for Krasnodar as they moved five points clear of Amkar and just a point off Spartak in fifth.

The top two edge away

The only game this weekend that didn’t have a goal but the goalless draw meant that Lokomotiv will stay top for another week. Lokomotiv came close to a goal in the 9th minute, N’Doye played the ball round the corner to Maicon, the Brazilian then laid the ball off to Tkachev, his effort took a slight deflection which was enough to beat Dikan but the net didn’t bulge as Spartak were saved by the post. Spartak felt they deserved a penalty in the 18th minute when Movsisyan was brought down by Ćorluka, however the former Tottenham man made a great sliding tackle and the referee correctly waved away the protests. Dikan kept out Lokomotiv in the 22nd minute, Samedov’s freekick was brilliantly saved by the Ukrainian. Dikan was the hero once again when Makeev’s poor back pass played in Maicon, Dikan was quick off his line to make an important challenge. Dikan was in inspired form making a number of great saves but ten minutes from time he needed help from the crossbar. Maicon’s cross from the left found Samedov all on his own at the back post and his header back across goal couldn’t find the back of the net. Although Spartak did have their moments going forward Abaev remained largely untested as Movsisyan and others struggled to cause Lokomotiv enough problems. Lokomotiv will be happy that their still top but they certainly had the better chances.

Andre Villas-Boas’ first away game as Zenit boss certainly wasn’t an easy one, they traveled to Perm to take on a tough Amkar side. The hosts started well and they had a great early chance, Georgiev’s cross found Ogude but the Nigerian’s header was a weak one and a golden chance was wasted. Amkar took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 18th minute. Former Zenit player Kanunnikov received the ball on the right and unleashed a stunning strike into the top corner, all anyone could do was stand and admire the strike. Their weren’t many chances in the first half, despite being in control Zenit struggled in the final third. Whatever AVB said at half time worked a treat as Zenit quickly leveled things. After having a penalty appeal correctly turned down Kerzhakov’s cross was saved by Narubin, Witsel’s shot was then excellently blocked but no one could stop Criscito volleying in. In the 54th minute Zenit hit Amkar on the break, Hulk getting round his marker with ease before picking out Kerzhakov so the striker could fire home his first league goal since the start of November. That win moved them top before Lokomotiv’s game but after their draw Zenit now sit a point behind, while being four points ahead of third place CSKA. That defeat for Amkar was their first loss since coming back from the winter break.

The Rest

CSKA got off to a flyer, some outstanding link up play carved open the Volga defence. Tošić played a lovely one-two with Dzagoev before playing a one-two with Doumbia and firing in from the edge of the area. It was a fantastic team goal but there will be question marks hanging over the head of Komarov after the strike from Tošić went under his arms. Things got even better for the champions as they doubled their lead two minutes later. Dzagoev played Doumbia through, the Ivorian’s shot was deflected over Komarov and unfortunately for him struck the post, however seconds later he and his teammates were off celebrating as Dzagoev reacted the quickest to head in his first goal of the season. Just before the break CSKA were reduced to ten men after Dzagoev was late in a challenge which resulted in him stamping on Shulenin. The CSKA midfielder was given a yellow at first but then shortly after the referee changed his mind and correctly gave him a straight red. Volga did manage to test Akinfeev in the 63rd minute when Leandro found Karyaka free in the box, the midfielder’s half volley forced Akinfeev into a good save. CSKA rounded things off in the 69th minute, Elm’s freekick came close to catching out Komarov, the keeper could only punch as far as Vasiliy Berezutski who headed the ball back towards goal for an unmarked Wernbloom to head in from close range. That victory was CSKA’s third in a row, the derby loss giving them a much needed boot up the backside. Volga on the other hand continue to struggle, this defeat now means they’ve failed to win in their last ten league games.

It was a rather uneventful first half in the game between Tom’ Tomsk and Dinamo Moscow. However the two sides certainly made up for it in the second half. Tom took the lead three minutes after the break when Panchenko drilled his freekick into box. Somehow the ball found its way through everyone and to the back post where an unmarked Rykov was able to smash his shot into the roof of the net. The former Dinamo player didn’t celebrate but he couldn’t help but show us a little smile. Sadly for Tom that goal was where it all went wrong, just three minute later Dinamo were level. Granat’s cross was punched away by Vasek but only to Kokorin, who’s shot bounced off the ground and into the back of the net. On the 64th minute Dinamo took the lead thanks to Kuranyi who now has three goals in four games, Ionov delivered a good cross from the right for the German to head into the bottom corner. Ionov found himself on the scoresheet three minutes from time, Kokorin’s shot was palmed into Ionov’s path by Vasek and the twenty-five year old happily took the gift.

This mid table clash saw Rubin get off to a fantastic start, three minutes in Karadeniz went on a great run before cutting the ball back to Eremenko and the Finnish midfielder managed to poke the ball to Azmoun. The nineteen year old was able to turn in the area and put his chance past two defenders and Pletikosa, the youngster was delighted with his second league goal for Rubin, his last came in October.  Rostov were level in the 32nd minute, a cross from the left was headed against a Rubin defender and fell nicely for Kalachev to fire past Ryzhikov. A minute before the break Rostov took the lead. They worked the ball well down the left before Dzyuba laid the ball off to Ananidze and his low effort found it’s way in. Very late on Rubin lost their keeper, a clearance upfield found Dzyuba and with him rushing towards the Rubin goal Ryzhikov rushed well out of his goal to make a tackle. Dzyuba went down and Ryzhikov was then sent off. It looked like the correct call at first viewing but closer replays show that the keeper didn’t make any contact. A game in which Rubin probably deserved more out of and they won’t be happy about losing their number one. Rostov defended well and stayed strong, Božović’s side are proving tough to beat since coming back from the winter break they’ve yet to taste defeat.

Ural hosted Anzhi in this weekend’s first game, a win for either side would’ve been huge. The game was played in an indoor arena and the hosts were the quickest to settle on the astro turf as they took the lead ten minutes into the game. Acevedo produced some lovely skill to fool Akhmedov before playing an excellent through ball to Gogniev, who easily poked the ball past Kerzhakov. Anzhi have a massive mountain to climb if their to avoid the drop and the mountain got even bigger just before half time as Ural grabbed a second. Acevedo the architect once again playing a cracking ball over the top with the outside of his foot, Erokhin was the man on the end of that ball and he had no trouble volleying past Kerzhakov.  Anzhi managed to pull a goal back in the 85th minute, Epureanu met Bilyaletdinov’s corner but he was denied by the bar, however he took his second chance when Agalarov headed back towards goal. Epureanu did well to reach the header before his teammate, two defenders and the keeper. This defeat for Anzhi was a huge blow and they may have to start planning for life outside the RPL. That win saw Ural climb up from 15th to 12th.

Krylya Sovetov were set to host Terek Grozny, but it was postponed after heavy snow ruined the pitch and despite efforts to play the game a day later on Tuesday the game didn’t go ahead and it’s now been moved to the 8th of April in Kazan. Krylya’s next game against CSKA has also been moved, the game will be taking place at Rostov’s Olimp-2.

Goal of the Week

Maksim Kanunnikov’s outstanding strike was the best goal this weekend and after scoring a goal like that he did very well not to celebrate against his former side. Other goals which deserve a watch are Tošić vs Volga and Ari’s against Kuban.

League Table and Results

RPL Table - Week 23

RPL Results - Week 23

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