Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spartak 2-2 CSKA: Visitors stun Spartak late in tense Moscow derby

What looked to be a promising and exciting Moscow derby was marred by a rash of fouls, cards and two penalties that lead to a late CSKA comeback as the season-record crowd misbehaved and disrupted large portions of the match.

Spartak surprisingly started on the front foot and took the game to their bitter rivals as a quickfire double attempt from Movsisyan and Yakovlev was saved excellently by Igor Akinfeev, who was on top form throughout the match. About a quarter of an hour in, the release of several flares in the crowd caused smoke to obscure the majority of the pitch from the stands. The smoke remained thick for the following ten minutes of the match and when it cleared, Ognen Vukojevic had picked up a yellow card and Spartak had gained the upper hand. What followed was a series of Spartak free kicks as Pontus Wernbloom and Aleksandrs Cauna  kicked out at their Spartak counterparts time after time. As the half progressed further, Spartak's rigid positions benefited them as they held possession while CSKA's fluid band of 3 behind the striker seemed unsure which of them should drop deep to help the double pivot. CSKA continued to struggle up to the break, ultimately conceding minutes before the break when a good passing move fell to Aiden McGeady, who sent an excellent long range shot past Akinfeev to take Spartak into the break in the lead.

football formations
The interval saw a change for both sides, as Keisuke Honda made his return from illness in the place of Cauna, while Kirill Kombarov replaced Evgenny Makeev for Spartak in the hope of a more able attacking presence. This change seemed to pay off immediately as Spartak doubled their lead through Ari barely a minute after the break. However, Spartak's fortunes went significantly downhill from there. Two minutes following the goal, Aiden McGeady brought down Ahmed Musa in the box and, despite Vagner Love's failure to convert it, the penalty marked the change in the game's flow as CSKA took control. Compressing the centre of the pitch by bringing Dzagoev and Tosic central, CSKA dominated Spartak's central midfield as they controlled possession throughout the second half. Both keepers continued on excellent form for the following quarter of an hour before Musa finally pulled one back for the hosts by sliding the ball low to Dykan's left. CSKA continued to push forward and were rewarded in the 92nd minute, as Vagner Love was brought down in the area by Marek Suchy to give the home side a second penalty, which Alan Dzagoev strongly converted to level the score at 2-2. The Spartak protests led to the match official handing out several yellow cards, including Rafael Carioca's second, meaning he will miss the Red-Whites' match against Anzhi Makhachkala next weekend.

Man of the Match: Alan Dzagoev
Dzagoev was quiet in the first half, but the introduction of Keisuke Honda compressed the pitch and allowed Dzagoev to work the ball in tight spaces. The attacking midfielder created several excellent chances and the equalising penalty was excellently taken.

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