Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dynamo 2-0 Amkar: Visitors punished on counters

Dynamo pulled away to a 2-0 home victory over Amkar, dragging their table position up to fourth going into the winter break.

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Dynamo lined up with no major surprises, the only change from last week's 3-0 win over Ural being the inclusion of Christopher Samba over Alan Kasaev, pushing Vladimir Granat to left back and Yuri Zhirkov up to Kasaev's left wing spot. Amkar were also largely unchanged, the only difference from their loss to Rubin on Monday being the inclusion of Ivan Cherenchikov at centre back due to Dmitri Belorukov's suspension.

The opening half an hour was a rather dull affair, with neither side willing to push forward and risk an opposing counter-attack. As a result, possession was even and shots were fairly limited before the match really started to open up in the 35th minute. Balazs Dzsudzsak had a good free kick deflected wide for a goal kick, despite coming off an Amkar player before going out. Mere minutes later, Yuri Zhirkov played an excellent ball in for Aleksandr Kokorin, yet the ball got caught up in his feet before a finish could be applied, allowing Thomas Phibel to clear the danger. This was immediately followed by Kevin Kuranyi being sent through on goal by a fantastic pass from Christian Noboa, but it was given as offside in an extremely questionable decision. Regardless, it proved to be the last chance of the half for either side.

The only change at the half was the removal of Kokorin in favour of Vladimir Dyadyun, a decision that paid off almost immediately. A defensive blunder sent both Dyadyun and Kuranyi into the box mere seconds into the half, but Dyadyun was unable to control Kuranyi's flick-on, and the chance came to nothing. The following minutes went the complete other way however, as Amkar pressured well. Maksim Kannunikov played an excellent cross for Georgi Peev, who was only inches away from getting a touch on it and potentially directing it goalwards. It was at this point that Dynamo finally took advantage of Amkar's large numbers in attack, starting a very fast counter-attack that ultimately had the ball end up with Zhirkov on the left wing. The Russian international played a lofted cross in for the onrushing Kuranyi, who headed down past Sergei Narubin to give Dynamo the lead. The goal gave Dynamo the confidence to push forward, and Amkar were forced firmly onto the back foot, struggling to effectively build up attacks or withstand the pressure from the hosts. Amkar finally got back into the game about 10 minutes later, pushing forward well but lacking the final ball time and time again. After a spell of sustained pressure from the visitors, a Dynamo counter led to Martin Jakubko giving away a penalty, which Kuranyi converted excellently to take his brace and close out the scoring.

 - Despite playing four at the back, Dynamo quite often looked like they were playing three centre backs, due to Luke Wilkshire's constant (and poorly executed) bombing up the right flank and Vladimir Granat's disposition to drift centrally.
- Aleksandr Kokorin was absolutely battered in the first half, soaking up foul after foul. I suspect this is a large reason why he was very ineffective and looked off the pace.
- Contrastingly, upon being substituted on, Vladimir Dyadyun was incredibly effective. Rather than sitting behind Kuranyi and constantly coming deep for the ball like Kokorin, Dyadyun pushed up alongside the German and pressured the Amkar defence.
- Speaking of the Amkar defence, they were really confident in dribbling out of the back. While it sometimes came back to bite them (such as for Dzsudzsak's excellent free kick in the 35th minute), it also paid off as they were able to maintain possession for extended periods.

Man of the Match: Kevin Kuranyi
Opened the scoring with an excellent header past Sergei Narubin, before killing off the match with an excellent penalty into the top left corner. Kuranyi was always dangerous, making several runs in behind the defence to latch onto through balls from Christian Noboa and Igor Denisov.

Honourable Mentions:
Christian Noboa - Certainly the most creative player on the pitch for either side, he was constantly looking for the perfect ball to start a counter or break through Amkar's defence, and succeeded on numerous occasions.
Thomas Phibel - A rock at the heart of Amkar's defence, he distributed well from the back. However, he did look shaky in the air and could have been sent of for an "accidental" hit on Balazs Dzsudzsak in the second half.

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