GROUP A (Champions’ Group)
It’s been written many times already but after ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG 2 – 0 CSKA MOSCOW it can now be said with surety that the title will be Zenit’s after this win put them 12 points clear at the top with only five games to play. Igor Akinfeev returned for the Armymen after 6 months out but was powerless to halt CSKA’s nosediving form and this defeat meant there’d been only one win from their last 10 outings.
After a scrappy hour of football with both teams squandering chances Zenit, who’d been using the pace of Vladimir Bystrov and Domenico Criscito down the flanks all match, took the lead through Bystrov on 63mins. The winger headed-in Kerzhakov’s centre from close-range, doing his bit to smooth relations with the fans who tend to boo him for once having left the club for rivals Spartak.
As it was, Bystrov had to leave the field after Andrey Arshavin stepped on him by way of this bizarre celebration. In truth Bystrov had hurt himself scoring but in Arshavin’s words, “He was writhing, I wanted to finish it!”
Arshavin himself wrapped things up a minute from time with a superb volley after more good work from Kerzhakov down the right. Some scamp released an inflatable horse (one of CSKA’s nicknames) as the goal went in and as it disappeared into the sky CSKA’s Champions League hopes perhaps vanished into thin air too as they slipped to fourth.
CSKA’s city rivals, however, are upwardly mobile and with SPARTAK MOSCOW 2 – 0 RUBIN KAZAN The Meat have climbed into second place meaning that the side who were second from bottom after five games may yet qualify for the Champions League. Marek Suchy turned-in Makeev’s flick-on to put Spartak ahead after 73mins before Emmanuel Emenike – an inspired July signing – netted his twelfth in eighteen appearances.
It was a deserved win over a lacklustre Rubin who cling to the final European qualification spot in sixth.
Before kick-off in Makhachkala home fans held aloft a banner exclaiming: “Europe is Waiting”. By the end of ANZHI MAKHACHKALA 0 – 1 DYNAMO MOSCOW, however, such expectancy had been tempered and another banner unfurled asking: “6 Games, 0 Goals. Sam, WTF?”
Indeed, another goalless day for Eto’o saw ambitious Anzhi defeated by Rykov’s goal after 37mins, deflecting in off ex-Blackburn man Chris Samba.Yet Anzhi had come closest in the ninth minute but after Zhirkov hit a post he centered the rebound only for Akhmedov to head against the bar and the ball was ajudged to have not crossed the line entirely.
Dynamo’s win takes them up into third and pushing for a Champions League spot while Anzhi remain in seventh, two places and four points behind Rubin and the last Europa League berth. For Hiddink’s men Europe may have to wait a little longer.
KUBAN KRASNODAR 1 – 1 LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW rounds-off Group A. Both sides shared 36 shots at goal equally and while Loko edged possession both ‘keepers played superbly, a draw feeling about right overall. Ex-Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko put Loko ahead with a clinical finish on the hour but Pizzelli equalised with an unstoppable free-kick with 15mins remaining.
GROUP B (Relegation Group)
There were some huge results at the bottom of the table, not least TOM TOMSK 3 – 0 TEREK GROZNY. Ruslan Nakhushev opened the scoring with a delightful free-kick on the stroke of half-time before Gultyaev and then Boyarintsev added to the scoreline.
The southern Russians from Grozny failed to adapt to the freeze-dried Siberian pitch leaving Tomsk in fifteenth but inching closer to the relegation play-off berths and the slimmest chance of surviving the drop. It would be a miraculous achievement but after this, their third win in six, no longer beyond the realms of possibility.
And Tom’s cause was helped by Volga crashing to defeat with SPARTAK NALCHIK 3 – 0 VOLGA NIZHNY NOVGOROD. It proved yet another case of ‘New Manager Syndrome’ as the victory was the first game under the stewardship of new boss Timur Shipshev. Kontsedalov, Mitrishev and Buitrago with the goals to keep Volga more involved with the relegation places than they’d like. Nalchik remain bottom and Volga in fourteenth place.
Also capitalising on Volga’s defeat were Krylia who climbed closer to escaping the relegation play-offs altogether with a win in Perm, KRYLIA SOVETOV SAMARA 2 – 1 AMKAR PERM the score. Sergei Kornilenko (on loan at Blackpool last season) bagged a brace to overturn Peev’s opener for Perm but missed a penalty and blew his chances of a hat-trick. Volkov and Novakovic were both sent off for the visitors who remain in tenth while Krylia keep Rostov in their sights.
ROSTOV 1 – 1 FC KRASNODAR meant Rostov remain twelfth and are now just three points clear of the relegation play-offs ahead of Krylia. It could have been worse for Rostov, however, as veteran striker Dmitry Kirichenko only cancelled out Movsisyan’s opener in the final seconds.
Tags: CSKA Moscow, Dynamo Moscow, Russian Premier League, Spartak Moscow, Tom Tomsk, Zenit St.Petersburg