We have a new league leader in the shape of Zenit as Lokomotiv slip up against Anzhi. CSKA, Dinamo and Spartak Moscow all continue to fight over the remaining European positions and Terek continue their great form to defeat the inform Rostov.
The Title Race
Zenit took the top spot this week as they make it four wins in a row since Villas-Boas’ arrival. Krasnodar traveled to St. Petersburg to end Zenit’s winning run and close the gap to Spartak. Hulk opened up the scoring in the 21st minute, his long freekick was hit with plenty of power but Sinitsyn could have done a lot better in stopping the ball, the Krasnodar keeper decided to punch the shot and resulted in the ball flying in. Last weeks hattrick hero Rondón was denied by the post after Hulk did well to find Danny who set up the Venezuelan. The second half produced plenty of action and it was Krasnodar that started the half quickest, they were level after fifty-two minutes. A long ball forward from Kaleshin was missed by both Joãozinho and Lombaerts, however the Brazilian used his fantastic pace to breeze past the defender and fire past Lodygin. Twelve minutes after Krasnodar’s goal Zenit were ahead once again, Danny’s corner found its way over everyone and dropped to an unmarked Hulk, his shot went in after a huge deflection off Kaleshin. Krasnodar opened up Zenit again with the long ball, this time it was Ari that broke through, however Lodygin came to the rescue this time to deny him. Rondón scored Zenit’s third with nine minutes left, Danny played a lovely one-two with Rondón before controlling brilliantly and firing a shot at goal, Sinitsyn made the save but he couldn’t stop Rondón tapping in. Both keepers were forced into good saves late on, Sinitsyn denied Danny after he was played through by Shatov. Lodygin then denied Márcio Abreu as his shot from range headed for the bottom corner. Hulk wrapped up the scoring in fantastic fashion. Tymoshchuk played a long ball up to Hulk, who used his strength brilliantly to hold off Jędrzejczyk before running at the defenders and firing his shot past Sinitsyn who could hardly react. A huge win for Zenit as they continue to enjoy life under Villas-Boas.
The same as the last few weeks Lokomotiv went into this game knowing they needed a win but they came up against an Anzhi side high on confidence after their 4-0 victory over Dinamo. N’Doye came close twice in the first half, he was first denied by the bar as he flicked on Samedov’s freekick and then he was denied by Kerzhakov as the keeper got down well to stop his shot flying into the bottom corner. Anzhi came close to opening the scoring when a long through ball through to Bystrov saw him skip past Abaev and just as he was about to poke the ball in Ďurica came back to make an excellent sliding tackle. N’Doye once again was denied by Kerzhakov close to the break, Denisov’s cross was missed by a defender, but sadly for Lokomotiv N’Doye couldn’t sort out his feet and Kerzhakov was able to come out to block. Lokomotiv continued to have chance after chance but Kerzhakov continued to deny them. After plenty of wasted chances Lokomotiv ended the game frustrated and they’ll be hoping that Zenit slip up at some point in their remaining fixtures, their meeting in May has become even more important.
CSKA kept up their fantastic form by narrowly beating a Ural side that weren’t doing too bad lately either. CSKA started very well, Zabolotnyi made a terrific double save to deny the Champions League chasers. First up was Tošić, Zabolotnyi managed to get down well but he could only palm the ball straight to Milanov, Zabolotnyi then reacted brilliantly, sticking out his leg which directed the ball over the bar. Zabolotnyi was Ural’s savior once again, Doumbia played a one-two with Tošić and he struck a lovely shot across goal, only for Zabolotnyi to flick it round the post. CSKA finally managed to beat Zabolotnyi in the 17th minute. Tošić provided the fans with the sight of some stepovers before playing the ball to Doumbia on the edge of the area. The Ivory Coast international did very well to turn his marker and play a good pass through to Musa, the Nigerian then managed to sneak his shot under Zabolotnyi. Ural were under a lot of pressure throughout the game, Zabolotnyi was forced into making a number of saves and the attack of Musa, Doumbia and Tošić continued to fire shots his way. Ural did manage to keep Akinfeev on his toes when Acevedo tried his luck from outside the area, but it ended up being a comfortable save. CSKA keep the pressure on Lokomotiv as they now sit three points behind and they seem ready to pounce on anymore slip ups.
Both Spartak and Krylya haven’t won in 2014 and both looked to make full use of each others bad form. It took Spartak fifteen minutes to take the lead, Jurado burst down the left and his cross was just too high for Costa, but a poor headed clearance fell perfectly for Movsisyan and the Armenian forward drilled his shot into the bottom corner. Spartak almost had a second when Jurado caused more trouble from the left, he cut inside and his curling effort forced Mucha into making a great save. Krylya almost found a way back into the game when Adzhindzhal tried his luck from the edge of the area and he wasn’t far off, his curling effort going past Dikan and just past the post. Spartak had plenty of chances to kill off their opponents but a second goal didn’t come. Jurado curled an effort just wide, Movsisyan pulled a shot wide from a good position, Krylya made a number of great blocks and Mucha also made a few saves to deny them. However the closest they came to doubling their lead was from a corner, the corner wasn’t cleared and it found Glushakov free at the back post, his effort cannoned off the crossbar. A much welcomed victory for Spartak and they’ll be hoping that this win will guide them to a strong finish. Krylya are right in the relegate battle now as they drop down to 12th and they’ll be hoping to get their first win in 2014 next week against Tom’ Tomsk.
This was Cherchesov’s first game in charge of Dinamo and there isn’t many easier away trips for him and his team. Volga are really struggling and it doesn’t look like they’ll be turning things around as their shaky defence continue to leak goals. Despite the scoreline this was no masterclass performance from Dinamo. The pitch was in very poor condition and the first half was something many people wouldn’t remember any time soon. The second half looked like it was heading in the same direction as the first, boring. However a 30-yard run up the pitch from Samba seemed to spark things into life. Dinamo grabbed their first in the 53rd minute, Kokorin burst through the middle, played the ball out wide to Dzsudzsák and his cross was weighted perfectly for Kokorin to run onto it and powerfully head the ball into the top corner. In the 75th minute a Dinamo freekick was smashed past everyone and Nigmatullin could only palm the ball to the edge of the area, where substitute Yusupov was stood and his powerful strike flew into the bottom corner. One minute later another substitute was on the score sheet, Ionov cut the ball back from the right and Kasaev’s shot found it’s way in after bouncing just in front of Nigmatullin and over him. Dinamo added a fourth in the 84th minute, Granat’s freekick curled round the wall but Nigmatullin managed to save it, but before he knew it Samba had put the rebound into the back of the net. More poor defending gifted Dinamo their fifth goal. Bulgaru went down in his box thinking he was fouled but their wasn’t any contact and due to him falling over Noboa was allowed to cut the ball back to Kasaev who easily grabbed his second of the night. The perfect result for Dinamo after last weeks shock defeat to Anzhi and a great way to start Cherchesov’s time in charge.
As I said earlier both Terek and Rostov entered the game in good form and it was hard to predict who was going to come out on top. That team ended up being Terek, Rostov usually solid at the back where caught having an off day. Terek took the lead from the penalty spot in the 25th minute, Maurício stepped up to convert after Rybus was brought down in the box. In the 33rd minute Rostov were down to ten men after Kanga was given his marching orders. After being fouled by Utsiev, Kanga reacted and caught Utsiev in the face with his elbow. Amelchenko almost gifted Terek with a second after he needlessly came rushing out of his goal, only to be beaten to the ball by Bokila, luckily for him his header bounced just wide. Just before the break Terek grabbed their second. A fantastic through ball set up Bokila and his shot across goal could only be palmed into the path of Aílton Almeida, who gratefully took his easy tap in. Terek also found themselves down to ten men just before the break as Utsiev picked up his second booking. Rybus almost got onto the score sheet when his curling effort from inside the box hit the post. In the 78th minute Terek got their third, again from the penalty spot as Djakov brought down Aílton Almeida and the Brazilian stepped up to unleash an unstoppable penalty into the top corner. Rostov had a penalty of their own late on as Semenov brought down Milić, unfortunately for them Dzyuba’s penalty down the middle was kept out by the feet of Godzyur. Terek continue their great run and they’ve now won four of their last 6 games, while only suffering the one defeat. For Rostov that was the first time they tasted defeat since the winter break.
Kuban ended their poor run last week when they defeated Tom, meanwhile their hosts Rubin have been suffering lately and they went into the game after two defeats. Kuban took the lead after just twelve minutes, Kaboré’s corner in wasn’t dealt with and as Xandão lost his balance his arm knocked the ball back into the path of Melgarejo, who directed his shot into the bottom for his third goal of the season. Rubin pushed for a way back into the game and luckily for Kuban their keeper Belenov was in inspired form as he made a trio of great saves to deny Eremenko, Azmoun and Karadeniz. Three minutes after the break Kuban doubled their lead. Popov played a one-two with Bucur on the edge of the area before clipping the ball through Rubin’s defence for Bucur to run onto and finish past Ryzhikov. Belenov continued to deny Rubin and Azmoun, the young striker had his shot with the outside of his foot flicked round the post and then from a corner the ball was poked to Azmoun and from point blank range Belenov reacted brilliantly to deny him once again. Rubin were left very frustrated after the game, they dominated the game but were constantly denied by the superb Belenov and the Kuban defence.
Tom and Amkar both came into this game on the back of two defeats but in the end neither could be separated after ninety minutes. Kanunnikov went close for Amkar, his effort from the edge of the area flew wide and Bordachev almost found the target when his effort curled inches wide of the post. In the second half Cebanu managed to get down to deny Vassiljev’s driving shot from range. Portnyagin forced Narubin into a save as well, his header looked to be heading in but Narubin managed to palm the ball out for a corner. Despite Amkar having more of the ball this was a tight game and a draw was fair. Amkar missed a good opportunity to edge further away from Rostov.
League Table and Results