Monday, December 9, 2013

2013-14 Matchweek 19 Recap: Slimmest of margins in title chase as winter break begins

Results this past weekend drew the chase for the league title down to the finest of margins, with both Lokomotiv and Zenit level on points but separated by 1 goal difference going into the winter break. Spartak are also right in the battle, trailing the leading two by a single point. Be sure to check back here over the coming weeks as there will be some reviews of the first half of the season and previews for what to expect when the Russian Premier League returns in March.

Krasnodar 1-0 CSKA
CSKA exerted heavy pressure on Krasnodar early in the match, but were forced to relent when Keisuke Honda sustained an injury in the dying minutes. The hosts came out swinging after the interval and Artur Jedrzejczyk got what proved to be the winner at the end of a fast and well-worked build up play, however the goal should have been called offside. The visitors returned to the forefront of the match late on, with Alan Dzagoev coming close to a winner, but the solid Krasnodar defence held on for the win.

Zenit 2-1 Ural
Zenit was dominant early on in this match and it paid off in the 12th minute, when Denis Tumasyan tried to clear a cross from Domenico Criscito, but the ball fell to Hulk, who finished coolly. Strangely, it was Hulk who also gave Ural their best chance of the first half, losing the ball in his own box to allow Aleksandr Stchanitsin to fire a shot across the face of goal. The second half started in much the same manner that the first had ended, with Ural pushing forward in search of a goal, and they finally succeeded in the 55th minute. After a foul on the edge of the Zenit box, Aleksandr Erokhin took a quick free kick, flicking the ball over Zenit's stunned defence for Spartak Gogniev, who rounded the keeper and equalised. Despite Ural forcing themselves back into the match, it was Zenit who had the final say, as Hubocan finished well from within the box from an Axel Witsel cross to take the three points.

Volga 1-2 Krylia
Initially, Volga appeared to have bounced back from their devastating 6-1 loss to Spartak last week, taking the lead via Marcin Kowalczyk and effectively controlling the match. However, as the match progressed, Krylia hit back on counter-attacks, first equalising through the excellent Luis Caballero, before substitute Artem Delkin hit the winner in the final minute of regular time.

Anzhi 0-0 Kuban
Once again, Anzhi were abjectly poor, allowing Kuban to control the match before the hosts missed the simplest of chances to pick up their first win of the season. In stoppage time, Roman Bugaev gave away a penalty for fouling Ilya Maksimov, an action which also resulted in Bugaev receiving a yellow. In the resulting uproar from the Kuban players, Bugaev received his second yellow, as did Charles Kabore, both for dissent. Now with a penalty and their opponents down to nine men, Anzhi had the perfect chance to grab a win, but Maksimov missed the penalty and Kuban were able to hold on for a draw.

Lokomotiv 0-0 Rubin
football formationsNeither side were particularly threatening in this match, with not a single shot on target coming from either side. Lokomotiv held the ball well, but had Lassana Diarra sent off for two yellows in stoppage time. That's about all there is to say about this match.

Rostov 0-1 Spartak
Despite two of their best players, Artem Dzyuba and Zhano Ananidze, being ineligible for this match as loanees from Spartak, Rostov matched the Moscow side blow for blow for the majority of the match. With the match winding down, it looked as though Rostov would again get a good result against top opposition, before Waris Majeed got his first goal for Spartak off a corner to snatch a win in the dying minutes.

Dynamo 2-0 Amkar
Amkar were impressively even with Dynamo for the majority of the match, but were punished by Kevin Kuranyi on several counter-attacks. First it was a header off a Yuri Zhirkov cross, before the German's excellent penalty resigned the visitors to a loss in a match that they arguably deserved a point from.

Terek 2-0 Tom
Terek looked confident for perhaps the first time this season, going ahead through Jeremy Bokila's tap-in in the 20th minute. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Vladimir Kisenkov was sent off for a second yellow. With the game winding down, Tom Tomsk's misery was compounded when Petr Vasek was sent off and a penalty was awarded to the hosts. Vladimir Rykov, forced to deputise at keeper as Tom had no substitutions available, was unable to save Ailton's good penalty and the match ended with Terek's second victory of the season.

1 - Lokomotiv
2 - Zenit
3 - Spartak
4 - Dynamo
5 - CSKA
6 - Krasnodar
7 - Amkar
8 - Rubin
9 - Kuban
10 - Rostov
11 - Krylia
12 - Volga
13 - Tom
14 - Terek
15 - Ural
16 - Anzhi

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