Unravelling the enigma of football in the post-Soviet republics
This title race lark is effectively over in Russia, but now the teams at the bottom have decided it might be a good idea if they start winning matches too, we’ve got one humdinger of a relegation battle on our hands.
Any two of about seven could go down, which is quite impressive in a 16-club competition.
Amkar Perm 0-1 Dinamo Moskva
If Dinamo gaffer Miodrag 'Count' Boûović isn’t careful, people are going to start calling him the 'Montenegrin Roy Hodgson'.
Count club-hopper has famously taken unfashionable sides like Amkar to fourth (2008) and last year finished sixth with FC Moskva, but his tenure at Dinamo since taking over in April hasn’t exactly been a roaring success, and there were rumours circulating last week that he could be out on his ear.
In spite of some expensive acquisitions, the Muscovites are ninth.
But Boûović got the rub of the green in Perm when two of the club’s big signings, Andrei Voronin and Kevin Kuranyi, combined to score a massively offside goal in the last minute of injury time to claim all three points.
Amkar are in trouble at the bottom and have lodged an official complaint about the German’s header.
Good luck with that...
Alania Vladikavkaz 2-3 Krylia Sovetov Samara
There’s always one team that embarks on an incredible run in any relegation battle to haul themselves out of trouble.
In Russia it’s Krylia Sovetov Samara (that’s a very Soviet-sounding 'Wings of the Soviets' to you), who were dead and buried a month ago, but have now won three of the last four games.
Power-behind-the-throne Vladimir Putin asked (read: ordered) regional officials to find companies to bankroll the financially stricken club who are the only non Moscow/St Petersburg side to be ever-present in the Premier League since the collapse of the USSR.
The transfer window was even extended on deadline day to aid their survival.
Krylia went three nil up in North Ossetia before Alania rallied to make things interesting with two goals in the last 16 minutes.
Oleg Samsonov and Ibrahim Tsallagov had put them 2-0 up at half-time, and substitute Pavel Yakovlev made it three with 16 minutes left. Alania pulled two goals back within four minutes through Aleksandr Marenich and Asen Hubulov, but Krylya held on for the win.
Despite their rejuvenation, Wings of the Soviets still occupy the last relegation spot with 22 points, one less than Alania.
Terek Grozny 1-0 Tom Tomsk
Terek have been doing OK this season.
The Chechens are seventh and in the hunt for a Europa League spot, but fear not, average clubs from the continent; should the unlikely happen, Terek will probably play in Moscow, not Grozny, even if the Russian Football Union believe it is safe enough to stage Premier League football there.
Shamil Asildarov’s penalty was the difference here after Brian May lookalike Hector Bracamonte took a tumble in the box.
Tom Tomsk are 10th, but only four points off the relegation zone.
Sibir Novosibirsk 2-2 Rubin Kazan
Pep Guardiola should probably start getting chummy with Sibir boss Igor Kriushenko if he wants to get one over Rubin in Camp Nou this December.
Barcelona face Gurban Berdiyew’s team in the Champions League group stages, but haven’t beaten them in three attempts. They’ve also only scored twice against Rubin, something relegation-threatened Sibir managed in 90 minutes yesterday.
Sergey Ryzhikov has done a damn fine job in between the sticks for the visitors this season, but it was his late blooper that gifted Sibir a point.
The Siberians are six points off safety with seven games remaining.
CSKA Moskva 2-0 FC Rostov
Igor 'I’m really, really good and linked with every top club in every single transfer window' Akinfeev was out injured (bruised thigh, the wimp), so Sergei Chepchugov, voted best goalkeeper in the First Division with Sibir last season (they could’ve done with him this year) was given the chance to impress.
Vagner Love stole the show, though. Again.
He scored both in the first half, including another monster effort from miles out, which makes it seven goals in 10 games for the Brazilian since returning from loan spells in South America.
CSKA are third, two points behind Rubin who've played two games more; Rostov are sixth.
Anzhi Makhachkala 0-1 Spartak Moskva
Oh dear, Anzhi.
Form guide for the last four games: lost, lost, lost, lost. And zilch in the 'goals for' column as well.
Anzhi were probably delighted Welliton was out injured, given his current scoring record of 16 in 17 matches, but that didn’t stop them clocking up another defeat in Dagestan.
Aleksandr Sheshukov scored the only goal of the game, which seemed to have more 'excitement' off the pitch than on it.
Some of the visiting fans were pelted with stones, fighting kicked off between rival supporters and there was one of those controversial banners on display (this one translates as 'death to Hitler, and to his grandchildren too').
Anzhi are in that clutch of sides at the bottom, Spartak remain fourth.
Spartak Nalchik 2-3 Zenit St Petersburg
Good ol’ game, this.
Zenit are unbeaten domestically this season and this fixture was a potential banana skin for Luciano Spalletti’s side, who are steamrollering their way to the title.
They established a Russian record of 21 games unbeaten on Sunday, which means Zenit are now six points clear of Rubin, who they’ve played two games less than.
The visitors went 2-0 up thanks to a double from the in-form Alexander Kerzhakov after 22 minutes but Spartak pulled one back just before the break through Jovan Golic.Roman Shirokov restored Zenit's two-goal cushion after the break, before Spartak’s Viktor Vasin reduced the arrears in the last minuteThe home side remain in the hunt for a (deserved) Europa League spot.
Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast 0-1 Lokomotiv Moskva
Ukrainian footballers haven’t fared all that well in England in recent years, but someone really should take a punt on Oleksandr Aliyev.
This guy is brilliant.
Aliyev has scored 13 times from midfield this season and was missing through suspension yesterday, but Loko still managed the win thanks to 36-year-old Dmirty Loskov, who was released by Saturn last season.
The Extra Terrestrials have picked up a worrying habit of losing games of late – five of the last seven, to be precise – and are now only two points above the relegation zone.
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