Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rosgosstrakh Championship of Russia; week 25 summary

In a peculiar twist on words, week 25 of the Russian Premier League was predictably unpredictable with a series of surprises.

The weekend started predictably though as champions-to-be Rubin Kazan defeated Shinnik Yaroslav relegation condemned 2-0 in workman like fashion. Kurban Berdyev is deserving of the highest accolades as while others have waited for Kazan to collapse from mid-season on, they have continued to push and never faltered. Christian Noboa opened the scoring seven minutes before the break with Serhiy Rebrov renaissance continuing as the longtime Dynamo Kyiv man scored with five minutes remaining.

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend was Zenit Saint Petersburg playing to a 2-2 draw against Spartak Nalchik. In many ways Dick Advocaat's hands were tied in this match as alluded to in the preview given the level of fatigue his players would be feeling with international duty. A victim of their own success, Zenit's roster was depleted through the international week and they lack the cohesiveness that you typically find in their attack. Their pacing was definitely off as they fell behind eighteen minutes into the match as Vitali Sumeiko scored from Spartak Nalchik. With little inspiration in the lineup, Alejandro Dominguez was brought in for Aleksandr Aniukov sixteen minutes after the break and as he so often does, immediately provides a lifeline of inspiration and tenacity. Nine minutes after he entered the match, he added the leveler and a further ten minutes later Andrei Arshavin gave Zenit the one goal lead. However failure to defend and to use the clock properly as Aslan Mashukov scored with three minutes remaining to bring the match to the final 2-2 level.

Spartak Moscow will rue the missed opportunity as they squandered a perfect opportunity to get near a European spot as they played Spartak Moscow Oblast to a costly nil draw. Russian international Ivan Saenko was unable to finish properly on a number of opportunities. Michael Laudrup introduced teen phenom striker Alexander Prudnikov with twenty-one minutes remaining but he couldn't find the mark and match concluded as a nil draw.

Elsewhere on Saturday Luch-Energiya Vladivostok's fight to avoid relegation as they battled Tom' Tomsk to a nil draw.

Sunday's action provided an exciting group of matches and with a series of surprises.

The shocker of the day was definitely table cellar dweller, Khimki 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow. Lokomotiv has been the most perplexing club in Russia. Laced with talent and offense threats, they haven't been able to gel and are adrift mid table. However without seemingly a hope in the world, Sergei Yuran's men have worked up the table and sit on the verge of avoiding relegation. The addition of legendary Spartak Moscow man Yegor Titov has reaped untold fortune and should Khimki survive they own it to his leadership and insight. Yegor has taught the message of champions overcoming adversity to this club and has been revitalized in this leadership role. Eldar Nizamutdinov opened the scoring for Khimki before the break with Slovak international Martin Jakubko doubling the lead with twenty-four minutes left in the match. Khimki now sits tied with Luch-Energiya Vladivostok in the final relegation spot and with the great veteran Titov leading the charge I expect them to survive.

With Romanian international Florentin Petre leading the way Terek Grozny swarmed Dynamo Moscow in a tight knit defensive battle that ended in a nil draw. Dynamo tried valiantly to push throw but Grozny cleared lines and virtually eliminated sight lines in a perfect display of fundamental Football.

With a glorious opportunity to catapult themselves into the race for a European spot Kryliya Sovetov Samara played to a 1-1 draw to FC Moscow. As typical of The Citizens they play an efficient brand of Football and are patient for the right opportunities. After Jan Koller gave Krysy the lead twenty-seven minutes into the match, Hector Bracamonte leveled the match eight minutes before the break.The Citizens played a tight defensive strategy throughout the balance of the match and didn't allow another goal as the match ended in a draw.

In possibly the highlight match of the weekend CSKA Moscow devastated Amkar Perm' 4-1 in a resounding show of strength. After Martin Kushev scored on what looked like a training ground exercise of flicking on a free-kick, Koni took over with once again, one of the great stories of the year, eighteen year-old wonder striker Alan Dzagoev finishing perfectly a Vágner Love set-up just before the break. Inspired with level score, Koni came out with a vengance after the break and took the lead with Vágner Love's goal five minutes after the break. Playing a man down with Ivan Cherenchikov red-carded, Amkar was no match for CSKA and Vágner Love added his second with twenty minutes remaining. With the entire team looking like they were trying to set him up for his third, somehow the ball stayed out. With four minutes remaining Vyacheslav Kalashnikov was red-carded and playing two men down, Russian international Sergei Ignashevich added the fourth goal of the afternoon.

Rubin Kazan 25 16 6 3 37 16 54
CSKA Moscow 25 13 8 4 42 20 47
Dynamo Moscow 25 12 8 5 34 25 44
Amkar Perm' 25 11 7 7 25 20 40
Zenit St Petersburg 24 10 8 6 50 31 38
Kryliya Sovetov Samara 25 9 11 5 36 22 38
Spartak Moscow 25 9 10 6 36 32 37
Lokomotiv Moscow 24 9 7 8 28 28 34
FC Moscow 25 8 9 8 27 28 33
Spartak Nalchik 25 8 6 11 26 31 30
Terek Grozny 25 8 6 11 20 33 30
Tom' Tomsk 25 7 5 13 20 33 26
Saturn Moscow Oblast 24 6 8 10 21 25 26
Khimki 25 4 8 13 27 47 20
Luch-Energiya Vladivostok 25 3 11 11 21 42 20
Shinnik Yaroslav 24 3 6 15 22 39 15