Despite every game in the Championship Division being a draw there were a few records broken, while in the Relegation Division a foreboding chasm between those in the relegation mire and those clear of it opened up.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION
With Friday’s evening result CSKA MOSCOW 1 – 1 DYNAMO MOSCOW, it seemed that the Armymen had all but blown their chances of catching Zenit.
Igor Semshov’s header on 75 minutes (the longest-distance header of the season) cancelled-out Doumbia’s early opener – his 25th of the season, breaking a 67-year-old club record previously held by CSKA legend, Vsevolod Bobrov – courtesy of a lovely chipped pass from Keisuke Honda and generous defending from Dynamo’s Granat. Doumbia now only needs one more to break the RPL’s all-time record for goals in a single season set by Rotor Volgograd hero, Oleg Veretennikov.
But CSKA’s slip was matched by Zenit on Sunday who, still to find their imperious pre-winter form, again failed to drive the final nail into the championship race’s coffin and, zombie-like, it keeps rising from the dead.
Indeed, it was former Zenit player, Alexey Ionov (dismissed from the club over the winter break due to alleged alcohol-related misdemeanors) who returned to haunt his old team, netting the game’s opener from the spot on 40mins after Kuban’s Marcos Urena was judged to have been tugged in the box. However, Danko Lazovic rescued a point and saved the day for Zenit with a close range finish with 16mins left to play, leaving the game ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG 1 – 1 KUBAN KRASNODAR.
RUBIN KAZAN 0 – 0 LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW was ‘played’ out on an absolute dog of a pitch. “It wasn’t so much a game as a struggle,” Roman Pavlyuchenko told Sport-Express. “It was more like rugby than football,” the ex-Spurs striker declared, “it would have been easier to pick up the ball and throw it” – which tells you all you need to know about this turgid encounter.
Summing up the weekend ANZHI MAKHACHKALA 0 – 0 SPARTAK MOSCOW proved another disappointment with Guus Hiddink’s new charges failing to live up to their glamorous facade in a rain-soaked clash that did nothing to whet the appetite and everything to dampen the excitement of a fixture between the RPL’s Young Turks and previously resurgent old stagers.
THE RELEGATION DIVISION
For some the spectre of match-fixing reared it’s ugly head during FC KRASNODAR 1 – 3 TEREK GROZNY. While Terek began the weekend only four points from the relegation play-off zone – something that narcissistic owner, Ramzan Kadyrov, will not countenance – Krasnodar sat safely in ninth place with nothing left to play for.
After just 21mins Terek were three-up and the defending for the last of these – including the lame effort by Krasnodar goalkeeper, Dzhanaev, to claw the ball back from over the line – certainly looks suspicious for those willing to read into such things. It has to be said, though, that teams from the Caucasus do have a reputation for ‘buying’ results – and Terek have been accused of it before.
On a lighter note, comedy’s Tom Tomsk finally managed it’s first home win in 10 months of trying. TOM TOMSK 1 – 0 VOLGA NIZHNY NOVGOROD was the result, courtesy of a scuffed goal from Denis Boyarintsev on 41 minutes. Ugly and unedifying it may have been but Tomsk won’t care. However, it still leaves them at the foot of the table, seven points adrift of the relegation play-off berths and their only, unlikely, hope of avoiding the drop.
FC ROSTOV 1 – 0 KRYLIYA SOVETOV SAMARA was the reason Tomsk have even that slim hope. Kryliya have been flirting with financial ruin all season and relegation should probably finish them off, an outcome not helped by this result. Kalachev netted the winner after 21 minutes, though Veremko should have done better and the Rostselmashi held on to all three points despite playing the last 24mins with 10 men after Gatcan was dismissed for a second yellow.
And with SPARTK NALCHIK 1 – 2 AMKAR PERM the Ural mountains team all but severed their ties with the bottom four and the relegation battle. Goals from Grishin and Burmistrov either side of half-time put the game beyond Nalchik, who scored through Golichev with nine minutes to play, and put six points distance between the away side and the dreaded drop-zone places.
Follow Alex on Twitter @alrobjack
Tags: Anzhi Makhachkala, Guus Hiddink, Russian Premier League, Spartak Moscow, Zenit St.Petersburg