Russian Premier League – Week 24 Review

Anzhi's victory signals the end of Dan Petrescu's time in charge of Dinamo.

Anzhi’s victory signals the end of Dan Petrescu’s time in charge of Dinamo.

There were plenty of goals this week in the Russian Premier League, including an eight goal thriller between Zenit and Rubin Kazan. The relegation battle continues to hot up every week and this week was no different as Ural, Terek and Anzhi all picked up surprise results.

Amazing Anzhi stun shambolic Dinamo, while Ural pile on the misery for Spartak.

Anzhi went into the game on the back of a disappointing defeat to relegation rivals Ural and coming up against Champions League chasers in Dinamo Moscow, not many would’ve given the bottom side much hope. Anzhi grabbed the lead eleven minutes into the game. Aliyev managed to easily get past Kozlov to fire a low cross past Yusupov and former Anzhi men Samba and Gabulov, finding the unmarked Bukharov for him to poke home. In the 30th minute Dinamo had a shot blocked on the edge of Anzhi’s area and the home side hit them on the break. Bukharov picking up the ball near the halfway line and the Zenit loanee breezed past Samba before playing a nicely weighted pass to Smolov, the Dinamo loanee comfortably putting the ball past Gabulov to grab his first league for Anzhi. The second half didn’t provide much action or talking points until the 66th minute when Anzhi sent their fans even more wild than after the second. Aliyev was able to block Douglas’ clearance before going on to play the ball across to Serderov, the 20 year old raced into the box for an easy tap in. Eight minutes from time Anzhi were in dreamland. Akhmedov played a brilliant pass through the Dinamo defence to Gadzhiev, he took a touch before confidently finishing to grab his first Anzhi goal on his first appearance for the club. Dinamo were all over the place, while Anzhi produced a performance of the highest quality and although it seems unlikely, they’ve given their fans some hope of staying up. More performances like that and we may just see something special happen.

On Tuesday it was announced that Dan Petrescu had lost his job and that Amkar head coach Stanislav Cherchesov would be taking over.

Ural celebrate their victory over Spartak.

Ural celebrate their victory over Spartak.

In-form Ural traveled to out-of-form Spartak, the hosts looking to get their first win of 2014. Early in the game Ural showed that they were there to take all three points. Lungu came in from the right, played a one-two with Gogniev and then laid the ball off to Acevedo, his curling effort forcing Dikan into making a great save. Spartak hit back with their own attack in the 7th minute. Özbiliz playing through Movsisyan, he then played it to Barrios on the edge of the area but his effort was poor and went straight into the arms of Zabolotnyi. Two minutes later Ural came close to opening the scoring, Lungu showing off some lovely skill to pass to Acevedo, his cross was headed off the line and away from Gogniev. Twenty minutes gone and Ural finally grabbed the lead. Manucharyan delivered a great corner in, Khozin was able to lose his marker for a split second which gave him enough space to hammer a fantastic volley past Dikan. In the second half Ural continued to defend brilliantly but they were almost caught out by a brilliant Özbiliz through ball to Movsisyan, however Zabolotnyi was quick off his line to block Movsisyan’s shot. Ural defended well throughout the game but they were also helped out by the lack of quality Spartak showed in the final third. Ural fully deserved the victory and they’ve now won four of their last five games. Spartak are struggling and it’s now the third game in a row where they’ve failed to find the back of the net.

Can the top three be stopped?

Rondon shows his former side no mercy.

Rondon shows his former side no mercy.

Zenit continued to keep the pressure on Lokomotiv and it’s now three wins in Villas-Boas’ first three games in charge. Rubin have fallen into some tough times this season and they were hoping to pick up a much needed win in order to increase the gap between them and Krylya. Zenit dominated proceedings and they were able to grab a deserved lead in the 19th minute, Danny broke down left after a nice one-two, however when he entered the box he was brought down by Kverkvelia and although he looked for the spot kick the defender could have no complaints. Hulk stepped up, his spot kick was excellently placed and too powerful for Nesterenko to get across and save. In the 35th minute Hulk converted his second penalty, smashing it into the bottom corner. Rubin were unfortunate to have another penalty given against them. Faizulin played a lovely ball over the top to Smolnikov, the fullback was pushed by Getigezhev just outside the area but due to Smolnikov falling into the box the referee gave the penalty.

The second half provided us with goals, goals and more goals. Rubin came close to scoring in the 64th minute, Azmoun played the ball back to Karadeniz on the edge of the area, his shot forced Lodygin into a great save. This is where Rubin got back into the game. The resulting corner wasn’t dealt with and Getigezhev’s shot was going well wide but Azmoun was there to direct it into the empty goal. Four minutes later Zenit regained the two goal margin. Rondón was brought on and two minutes later he scored against his former side, Smolnikov’s good cross in from the right saw Rondón leap well and direct a great header out of Nesterenko’s reach. Next came the goal of the game for me, Rondón picked up the ball outside the area and played a lovely pass through a defender’s legs to Danny, who excellently curled his shot round Nesterenko. Three minutes after Danny made it 4-1 Ryazantsev slipped the ball through to Rondón, who easily shrugged off Kverkvelia before wrong footing Kuzmin and firing low into the bottom corner. Rubin got themselves a second eight minutes from time, their corner in found Mogilevets, his header struck the post, his second attempt was blocked and then Karadeniz was brought down by Faizulin. Eremenko calmly stepped up and stroked the ball past Lodygin. In the 90th minute Zenit wrapped up the scoring, Arshavin’s ball across goal found it’s way to Hulk and the Brazilian pulled it back for Rondón, who took his chance to complete his hattrick . Rubin started both halves well but they left St. Petersburg with a miserable scoreline, fitting for the miserable weather throughout the game. Rondón took the headlines after having a sensational impact from the bench, three goals and one assist. However for me it was Danny that delivered yet again for the hosts, the Portuguese midfielder was a constant threat and Rubin struggled to deal with him.

CSKA have been in terrific form since their derby loss to Dinamo, they’ve now won four games in a row. Their hosts this weekend were a struggling Krylya side that didn’t have the advantage of being at home due to the game being moved to Rostov’s Olimp-2. Krylya got off to the worst possible start, just four minutes into the game CSKA took the lead. Doumbia played the ball through and Tošić was able to beat Mucha to the ball, the Serbian knocking the ball past him to pass the ball into the net. Three minutes later the game was pretty much over for Krylya. Vasiliy Berezutski’s long ball up the pitch found Doumbia, he controlled the ball brilliantly and managed to lift the ball over Mucha and into the empty net. CSKA sealed the win ten minutes into the second half, Vasiliy Berezutski charged forward from the back, Doumbia then left the ball to go through his legs to find Tošić and the Serbian once again found the back of the net, this time firing an excellent shot well out of Mucha’s reach and into the top corner. Krylya managed to get themselves onto the scoresheet late on. Some poor defending from CSKA allowed Goreux to play and one-two with Makhmudov, Goreux controlled Makhmudov’s delightful chip over the defence and whether it was a shot or a pass he managed to set up Chochiev for a tap in from a couple of yards out. It was a comfortable performance for CSKA and they’ve hit form at the right time.

Just like last week Lokomotiv went into the knowing that Zenit had won and that they needed nothing less than a win to stay top of the table. Volga, the most out of form side in the league were the visitors and they also needed a victory after seeing  Anzhi win. After just twenty-four minutes Volga were reduced to ten men, N’Doye headed the ball over Polczak and the Polish defender pull him down to deny him going through on goal. In the 31st minute Maicon ran down the left, skipped past Karyaka before being brought down in the box by Kowalczyk. Samedov stepped up, he went for power and despite getting his hands to it Pareiko couldn’t keep it out. Lokomotiv started the second half brilliantly. Just a minute after the break Samedov was played through down the right, he then played a lovely weighted cutback towards the penalty spot where the unmarked Maicon was able to run onto it and smash his shot home. N’Doye wrapped things up in the 72nd minute, Maicon blocking a shot before slipping the ball through to N’Doye. The clubs top scorer couldn’t be stopped, Kowalczyk attempted a slide tackle but only managed slight contact on the ball, N’Doye quickly adjusted his feet and was able to tuck the ball past Pareiko. Lokomotiv have been the most consistent team this season and they haven’t tasted defeat in the league since the 9th of November.

Lokomotiv aren't showing signs of slowing down.

Lokomotiv aren’t showing signs of slowing down.

The Rest

Amkar dominated the first half as Terek struggled to cope. In the 3rd minute Godzyur was called into action when Peev’s curling effort was heading for the bottom corner. With fifteen minutes gone Amkar had another chance to get the lead. Terek’s attack was stopped after a fluffed shot, Kanunnikov run most of the pitch but over hit his pass and forced Peev out wide, he produced a great cross which was met by Ogude and again Godzyur was there to save. Amkar came close once again after twenty minutes, Georgiev’s freekick curled round the wall and Godzyur managed to quickly dive across goal to stop it from sneaking into the bottom corner. Despite being in full control Amkar found themselves behind at the break. In the 42nd minute Ivanov jumped the highest to get to Utsiev’s high cross and head into the bottom. Amkar were a completely different side in the second half, they were poor and didn’t look like scoring. However right near the end Georgiev tried catching out Godzyur with his freekick, from a tight angle and he almost squeezed it in. Godzyur managing to react quickly to keep it out before it was eventually cleared. Massive victory for Terek in their battle for survival and they have Godzyur to thank for his impressive performance between the sticks.

Kuban were getting desperate for a win and they finally got it when Tom’ Tomsk came to town. The first half saw plenty of chances for both sides, but both teams struggled to test the keepers. Vasek was forced into a good save early on and despite being the busier keeper he dealt with most of the shots comfortably. Just before the break he was beaten but luckily for Tom the officials ruled it out for offside. A long ball into the box was flicked on towards Popov, but it was Rykov that headed the ball into his own net. Kuban were certainly upset with the decision. In the 55th minute Kuban would’ve been behind had it not been for a fantastic double save from Belenov. A cross into the box found Ignatovich unmarked, his volley was denied by Belenovand the keeper then showed great reactions when sticking out his leg to save Ignatovich’s rebound. In the 67th minute Kuban took the lead, a freekick came in, Xandão’s header was saved by Vasek but Armaş was there to hit the post and luckily the ball came back hit him and went in. Kuban had all three points in the bag with five minutes remaining. Melgarejo played the ball to Popov who burst through to poke the ball with the outside of his foot past Vasek. Kuban with a much needed victory and one they deserved.

Both Krasnodar and Rostov were in fantastic form going into their meeting. Krasnodar are chasing for a European place but Rostov have been a tough nut to crack in recent weeks. As expected this was a very tight game and there weren’t many chances, both sides hardly tested the keepers when they did manage to get a shot on goal. Rostov opened the scoring in first half injury time, Kalachev’s cross found Dzyuba, his diving header forced Sinitsyn into a great save but unfortunately for him Ananidze was there to put the ball in, despite not striking the ball cleanly from a couple of yards out.  Krasnodar pushed for an equaliser but at times it seemed like they were afraid to shoot. In injury time again Rostov grabbed their second to earn the victory. Seconds on the clock and Granqvist brought down Dzyuba with a clumsy challenge from behind. Dzyuba was the man to step up and his spot kick was placed into the bottom corner, just out of Sinitsyn’s reach. Rostov remained resilient throughout the game, while Krasnodar struggled to click in attack with the absence of Wanderson. 

Krylya Sovetov vs Terek Grozny

Last week this game was postponed due to heavy snow and after failing to play the game the next day it was moved to Tuesday the 8th. Both sides are fighting the drop and both would’ve loved all three points, however it wasn’t too be but they can both smile as they both came away with a point as they couldn’t be separated after ninety minutes. It was a tightly fought game but both sides failed to impress in the final third, there weren’t many good chances created and apart from the end of the first half it wasn’t the most entertaining game. Five minutes from the break Terek took the lead, Aissati’s cross from the right and Bokila was able to get in front of his marker and direct the ball past Mucha, hitting the post on its way in. Krylya were level four minutes later. Makhmudov gave the ball to Caballero on the edge of the area, the Paraguayan taking a touch before firing into the top corner. That was his first goal since the winter break and his sixth of the season.

Goal Of The Week

This week’s was tough to decide. There was Danny’s lovely finish for Zenit, Doumbia’s fantastic control and lob against Volga and Tošić’s second goal against Volga, where he curled a beautiful shot from the edge of the area straight into the top corner. It took me a while to decide but in the end I went with the latter, enjoy.

League Table and Results

RPL Table - Week 24

RPL Results - Week 24

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