Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ural 2-1 Anzhi: Hosts dominate but allow late chances

Ural dominated Anzhi for the majority of the 90 minutes and went two goals up, but allowed Anzhi several chances late on, one of which allowed the visitors a consolation goal from a corner.

Neither side lined up particularly strangely, with Ural using a very attacking 4-1-4-1 with Gerson Acevedo and Aleksandr Erokhin sitting just behind Spartak Gogniev. Meanwhile, Anzhi set up with their standard 4-2-3-1, playing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Oleksandr Aliev on the wings, yet the two constantly interchanged to try to find a way through.

football formations
Ural started the match firmly in control of the ball and looked dominant early on, coming close through Chisamba Lungu in the opening four minutes. Unfortunately, the match was marred by an early injury, as Ural's Vladimir Koman went down early on and had to be replaced by Aleksandr Stavpets. Mere moments later, Ural went ahead as Acevedo played an excellent through ball which was seemingly destined for Erokhin, however he left it and drew Alexandru Epureanu out of position. The ball then found Gogniev who slotted coolly past Anzhi keeper Mikhail Kerzhakov. It was Lungu that had the next chance, but he sent the ball high and wide despite shooting from just outside of the six-yard box. Anzhi finally managed to get some possession after this chance and created one of their own seven minutes later as Fyodor Smolov was sent through on goal, but Ural's Nikolai Zabolotny was equal to his effort and sent the ball for a corner. The middle of the half slowed considerably, with Ilya Maksimov coming closest but never really threatening the goal, and it looked like Ural would go into the half with just a one goal lead. However, this was not to be the case as, five minutes from half time, Acevedo chipped a pass over Anzhi's defence and the onrushing Erokhin volleyed it past Kerzhakov to make it 2-0.

The second half was significantly less exciting as neither side really pushed forward much and, as a result, chances were few and far between. Khozin came close with a header from a free kick ten minutes after the interval, but Kerzhakov was able to make the save easily. It wasn't for another twenty minutes that a chance came around, when Erokhin headed wide from a Dantsev cross. The match looked set to wind down, but it turned out that the excitement would only ramp up, as Zabolotny was forced to save a Gadzhibekov header at full stretch. At the resulting corner, Serder Serderov connected with a header that hit the crossbar, falling to Agalarov who headed it back across goal before Epureanu connected with a third header just over Zabolotny to bring it back to 2-1. Ural had one chance to finish the game off after Anzhi's goal, but Aleksandr Novikov sent the ball high and wide, so the hosts had to settle for a somewhat nervy finish.

Man of the Match: Gerson Acevedo
Acevedo was excellent on the ball all match long, setting up both Ural goals with fantastic passes. He was a little weak defensively, as per usual, but given his role for the team it's somewhat understandable.

Honourable Mentions:
Aleksandr Erokhin - The most dangerous threat on either side for most of the match, Erokhin was very unlucky not to add a second to his tally.
Alexandru Epureanu - Got Anzhi's consolation goal and continued a good run of form.

- Ural were by far the better side for most of this match. They rolled over Anzhi in the first half and even when they weren't creating chances, they maintained the majority of possession. Anzhi were only really let into the match in the final ten minutes.
- It's got to be a really tough decision over whether to pick Spartak Gogniev or Edgar Manucharyan to start at striker for Ural.
- I remember when both Zabolotny and Kerzhakov were seen as promising keepers and no one had ever heard of Yuri Lodygin. Those were dark days.

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