Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spartak 4-2 Zenit: Movsisyan hat-trick highlight of incredible match

Spartak fought to a well deserved 4-2 victory over Zenit, thanks largely to a Yura Movsisyan hat-trick, however the Armenian's match was marred by an injury just before the hour mark. Also, as a side note, there is a notable lack of a formation diagram as the website I use for it appears to be suffering some issues right now.

Both sides lined up primarily in their expected formations: Spartak in a 4-2-3-1 and Zenit in a 4-3-3, however both managers made a number of changes both out of necessity and choice. Valeri Karpin brought in Aras Ozbiliz for the suspended Jose Jurado, while Kim Kallstrom replaced injured Joao Carlos as Rafael Carioca was dropped to centre back. Sergey Pesjakov was dropped in favour of Artem Rebrov, who hadn't played a league match for Spartak in over a year. For their opponents, Luciano Spalletti dropped the group of Roman Shirokov, Luis Neto, Danny and Igor Smolnikov for Konstantin Zyryanov, Tomas Hubocan, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Anyukov respectively.

Spartak's first half (and Movsisyan's in particular) didn't start very well as he picked up a yellow card within 30 seconds after handling the ball into Yuri Lodygin's woodwork. The hosts suffered further as Kerzhakov put Zenit in front after only 5 minutes thanks to a perfectly weighted Domenico Criscito cross. And then things appeared to go from bad to worse in the 19th minute as Tino Costa fouled Witsel in the box to give away a penalty. However, Rebrov was equal to Hulk's poor effort and managed to clear the resulting scramble to maintain the one goal gap. Things started to change around 10 minutes later, as Spartak pushed forward. Costa tested Lodygin with a shot from range before Movsisyan sent a glancing header in off the post from a corner to equalise. Mere minutes later, Ozbiliz fired just wide after a corner fell to him on the edge of the box, and Nicolas Lombaerts had to be replaced after a terrible challenge from Aiden McGeady. It took just 3 more minutes before Spartak took the lead, when a horrible Hubocan clearance fell straight to Movsisyan in the box and he slotted away coolly, but he was still not content with that. In the final play of the half, the Armenian rounded Lodygin and shot on target, but Hubocan went some way to redeeming himself for his earlier mistake by clearing the ball off the line to end the half with just a goal in it.

The second period began much as the first had ended, with Spartak dominant. So dominant in fact that Movsisyan bagged his hat-trick after Tino Costa sent a powerful cross into him after just over a minute. Unfortunately, that proved to be his last involvement as he twisted painfully just 10 minutes later and had to come off the pitch, yet was able to move to the sideline under his own power. Zenit looked fired up upon immediately conceding and managed to turn the flow of the game back in their favour and the added pressure paid off when Hulk smashed home an excellent free kick in the 64th minute to bring the visitors back within one goal. However, this goal seemed to give Zenit the impression that they could sit back and relax and, as a result, Spartak retook control of the match. Their renewed possession finally became important in the final 10 minutes, as substitute Luxas Barrios knocked home a Glushakov free kick, but his goal was disallowed for offside. Nonetheless, just 3 minutes later, Glushakov made a barnstorming run through Zenit's midfield and defence to finish off the match with an excellent individual goal. The visitors mounted a minor attack with minutes to go, but it was too little too late for Zenit and the match finished 4-2.

- Yura Movsisyan was absolutely incredible in the hour that he was on the pitch. Not only was his finishing perfect, but his contribution to build-up play and his efforts in winning the ball back in the final third were excellent.
- Artem Rebrov had an up and down match. He was largely at fault for Zenit's two goals, yet was excellent in making saves outside of those two slip-ups.
- Hulk too was rather inconsistent today, as he worked well on the ball to create several chances, but struggled to get involved at times. His penalty was poorly taken, but his free kick was precisely the opposite and was fired into just the right area.
- So far this season Zenit have had an issue of starting halves slowly and taking hold of the match as play went on, but this match was the complete opposite of that. Aside from one chance at the beginning of each half, Zenit were dominant early but let their grasp slip as each period went on.

Man of the Match: Yura Movsisyan
Absolutely perfect performance from him. Could've had at least 1 or 2 more had his match not been marred by injury.

Honourable Mentions:
Denis Glushakov - Dangerous with the ball in the centre of the park, and his individual goal was well taken. He also dropped deep often to help in defence.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov - Constantly making dangerous runs into Spartak's box, but ultimately all but one came to nothing.

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