Unravelling the enigma of football in the post-Soviet republics
We had seven-goal thrillers in Siberia AND Moscow at the weekend, while evidently someone’s had a quiet word with Gurban Berdiyew and told him how to get Rubin Kazan playing some half-decent stuff in their opponents' half for a change.
Here’s what happened on match day 27 in the Russian Premier League.
Spartak Nalchik 2-0 Saturn Moskovskaya OblastGetting beat by Spartak Nalchik is probably the least of Saturn’s worries at the minute. Before the week is out, the club could cease to exist.Saturn’s chiefs have a meeting this Thursday with Moskovskaya Oblast governor Boris Gromov to discuss the financially stricken club’s future, which could result in a merger with Khimki of the First Division.
On the pitch, Andrey Gordeev has worked wonders in some incredibly taxing conditions, but not even he could prevent the Extra-Terrestrials from slipping to defeat in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic.
Results went Spartak Nalchik’s way on match day 27 (i.e. they won and Lokomotiv Moskva didn’t), meaning the race for the Europa League places is going to the wire.
Their striker Vladimir Dyadyun had scored 10 of their 35 goals in the Premier League this season prior to Friday, but he hobbled off in the first half. Fortunately for Yuri Krasnozhan they aren’t a one-man show and took the lead just before the break when Roman Kontsedalov scored a sublime penalty. The points were sealed on 65 minutes when Gogita Gogua’s drive was turned in by Arsen Goshokov.
Amkar Perm 2-0 Terek GroznyIt was only last week that four experts affirmed here that Amkar were doomed, which of course meant on Saturday they decided to end their four-match losing streak at home to Terek and haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
They took the lead in the 24th minute through Mitar Novakovic, who headed a right-wing cross from just outside the six yard box past Soslan Dzhanayev. Terek are safe and playing for pride now, and looked pretty toothless up front; not even the introduction of Hector Bracamonte could alter their fortunes.
The Chechens fell further behind a minute after the restart when Georgi Peev’s low cross was superbly converted by Stevica Ristić, who not so long ago was playing at Uzbekistan’s we-used-to-be-famous-but-now-nobody-cares-because-all-our-famous-players-and-Phil-Scolari-have-left Bunyodkor (remember them?).
This relegation battle just got interesting. Maybe.
Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 Tom TomskTwo more teams scrapping down there are Anzhi and Tom. Valeri Nepomniachi’s Tom ended a run of six games without a win in Siberia last week, but reverted to type in Dagestan, where Anzhi have consistently shown better form than on the road.
They were helped no end by Alexey Polyakov, Tom’s goalkeeper, who fumbled Ibra Kébé’s left-footed drive; Igor Strelkov reacted first to pounce on his error for the only goal of the game midway through the first half.
FC Rostov 1-1 Dinamo MoskvaFootball is a fickle industry. We were talking not so long ago about Miodrag Bozovic being given the boot, but he’s taken the Muscovites up to seventh and they have an outside chance of a European spot. Stuff getting Dan Petrescu or Valery Gazzaev in, give the Count time.
Their Europa League hopes took a bit of a knock on Saturday. You can’t dispute the fact they’ve improved under Bozovic though, who took over when the club were languishing in 11th. Rostov were without Alexandru Gaţcan and on a five-match losing streak that has ended their own chances of European football, so Dinamo would’ve fancied something here.
But they fell behind when the brilliantly named Chavdar Yankov sent in a cross that bamboozled Anton Shunin and flew over his head and into the back of the net. He’s probably telling all his mates he meant it, this blog suspects (Yankov, not Shunin, obviously).
Dinamo found the equaliser they deserved six minutes after the restart when Andriy Voronin set Alexandr Samedov free, and despite having the first touch of NMTB’s mum in flippers, he managed to fire home from an acute angle and earn the Muscovites a point. That’s six matches without defeat for Dinamo.
Sibir Novosibirsk 2-5 Zenit St PetersburgThis match was absolutely bonkers.
Zenit haven’t been themselves recently, probably because they’ve had games left, right and centre, so the last thing they wanted after playing Hadjuk Split on Thursday in the Europa League was this fixture 3,000 miles away from Croatia in Siberia.
Novosibirsk is three time zones ahead of St Petersburg, and it isn’t a surprise only Alexandr Anyukov and Igor Denisov from the starting XI in Croatia began this game.
Zenit found themselves two down after six minutes, both due to uncharacteristic defensive errors. Yuri Zhevnov in goal made an absolute mess of Ivan Nagibin’s second-minute strike, then shortly afterwards Vladimir Bystrov’s sloppy pass allowed Bartolomei Grzelak to add another.
Incredibly, their two-goal lead was wiped with just 15 minutes on the clock. Bystrov atoned for his error with a cool finish from a well worked move and Steve Joseph-Reinette turned the ball into his own net to put Zenit level.
After the break Luciano Spalletti’s side scored three unanswered goals and NMTB missed the lot, owing to being in the toilet. Thankfully this blog didn’t have the runs; instead, the visitors enjoyed a seven-minute blitz to put Sibir to the sword out east. Pick of the bunch was number four from Sergei Semak.
Zenit can win the league on Wednesday when they face CSKA.
Alania Vladikavkaz 0-0 Lokomotiv MoskvaIf you believe the rumours, Yuri Semin will be leaving Lokomotiv and returning to Dynamo Kyiv (taking the excellent Oleksandr Aliyev with him, too), and he’ll be replaced in Moscow by BATE Borisov’s talented young coach Viktor Goncharenko. And instead of him will be… oh, who cares.
Loko haven’t been averse to the odd red card in 2010 and were missing Marko Basa due to suspension. They were a man light again at the weekend when Jan Durica hauled down Eidar Nizamutdinov in the box, only for Gheorghe Florescu to put his rather pathetic penalty wide. The reaction of the commentator and the Alania bench says it all.
Lokomotiv shuffled the pack and brought Malkhaz Asatiani on for Dmitri Tarasov and played the better football, but Alania grew as the game went on and had they not been so lacklustre in the opponent’s final third (this was their fourth game without scoring), they’d probably have won this.
CSKA Moskva 4-3 Krylya Sovetov SamaraGoals, goals, goals at Arena Khimki.
Alexandr Tarkhanov deserves a medal for his achievements at Krylya, what with taking them from certain relegation to the brink of safety.CSKA made three changes from the side that lined up against Palermo last week and took the lead after just three minutes when Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick was met by an unmarked Alexey Berezutsky. They doubled their advantage five minutes later.
Manchester United fans might not be interested to know Zoran Tosic is doing quite well over in Russia, and it was his cross that was taken down by Tomas Necid, who took one touch before finishing well.
That looked game over after just eight minutes, and certainly after Tosic added a third from Dzagoev’s mazy run with 23 minutes remaining you’d have thought that was it, but Krylya staged a spirited comeback.
Oleg Ivanov’s drive beat a flat-footed Igor Akinfeev with 18 minutes left and then Berezutsky received his marching orders shortly afterwards for a foul in the box on Sergei Kuznetsov. Leilton converted the subsequent penalty, which set up a nervy last 10 minutes for the Muscovites.
Necid added his second and CSKA’s fourth at the death with a header, but Krylya came back again when Sergey Tkachev stabbed home from close range in injury time. They couldn’t find an equaliser though, and Leonid Slutsky’s side hung on for three valuable points in the pursuit of second.
Rubin Kazan 1-1 Spartak MoskvaNMTB treated this game much like a re-entering a suspiciously smelly bathroom: “I’ll give it 20 minutes.”
Watching Rubin’s ultra-defensive football is incredibly difficult for the neutral and they couldn’t really afford to lose this one, which ordinarily would’ve meant Gurban Berdiyew giving us a master class in how to shut a team out, but this blog rather enjoyed yesterday’s match. That's probably the first time NMTB could ever say that about a Rubin fixture.
Mainly because they actually displayed some attacking intent and Rubin were unlucky not to be leading by the time Ibson split their normally watertight defence with a beautiful pass to find the league’s top scorer Welliton, who did just before half time what he’s been doing all season.
That was just the fifth league goal Rubin have conceded at home all year. Putting them in at the other end has been the problem, although that’s kind of to be expected if you sign Obafemi Martins (not in the matchday squad yesterday), and a lack of cutting edge up top looked to be costing them again against Spartak.
They did manage to conjure up an equaliser deep into injury time though. Sergei Kornilenko had been throwing himself about theatrically all game and was booked for his troubles, but he headed a late, late goal to move Rubin back into second and eight points ahead of Spartak with three games remaining.
The Krasno-Belye can now at least concentrate on that massive Champions League tie with Marseille they’ve got coming up.
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