Russian League, Round 25
April 12, 2014
Zenit 4 – 1 Krasnodar
Goals: Hulk 21, 64, 90+3, Rondon 81 – Joaozinho 52
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Lombaerts (c), Criscito – Witsel (74 Tymoshchuk), Fayzulin (46 Ryazantsev), Danny – Hulk, Rondon, Arshavin (65 Shatov)
Krasnodar: Sinitsyn – Kaleshin (71 Markov), Granqvist, Sigurdsson, Jedrzejczyk – Gazinskiy, Shipitsin (66 Marcio), Mamaev (87 Sergey Petrov), Joaozinho, Wanderson, Ari
AVB had chosen another variation of the attacking lineup featuring two DMs but with Arashvin and Danny playing at the same time:
Arshavin - Rondon - Hulk
Fayzulin - Witsel
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Smolnikov
This choice resulted in a very watchable attractive football from the very start. The hosts enjoyed significant playing advantage in the first 45 minutes, the possession percentages were 79 vs. 21 (pretty much the same numbers as in the Rubin game). The opening goal came from a set piece. Hulk sent a ferocious free kick at the speed of 125 km/h from 35 meters and Sinitsyn couldn’t cope with the strike deflecting the ball into his own net with his fists, a bad error by the goalkeeper. Rondon hit the inside of the post after a good attack initiated by Hulk on the right side with his trademark move inside.
After the break, the visitors added in aggressiveness. Just seven minutes after the restart a Krasnodar defender sent a long ball towards Ari who was in an offside position, the Zenit center backs were still marking him while Joaozinho ran onto the ball and sent it into the far corner for the equalizer. Zenit pushed forward and restored their advantage about 10 minutes later: Arshavin earned a corner, Danny with his cross found Hulk unmarked at the far post and the Brazilian scored via a deflection off a defender.
A few minutes later Hulk scored again after a quickly taken free kick but the ref disallowed the goal presumably because Krasnodar was about to make a substitution when the hosts were taking the free kick. In general, the level of the officiating in this match was very low with decisions often inconsitent throughout the game, however in this particular case the ref got it right and the goal shouldn’t have stood. Ari wasted a one-on-one after another long ball, Lodygin did a fantastic job by parrying his shot. Immediately after that substitute Shatov botched a promising 4-on-2 counter attack with a bad pass. Lodygin made another great save after a free kick.
The game was finally decided 10 minutes before the end when Danny played a one-two with Rondon, Sinitsyn parried his shot but Rondon was the first on the rebound. Krasnodar poured forward leaving spaces at the back and the hosts immediately wasted a 5-on-3 counter attack in which Danny failed to beat the Krasnodar goalkeeper after being put through on goal. There was another great save by Lodygin a couple of minutes before the end. Hulk finished off Krasnodar in stoppages after dribbling through four defenders then beating Sinitsyn at his near post.
Hulk and Rondon had a great game, as well as Lodygin and Smolnikov. Smolnikov was playing against one of his former clubs and probably had his best game in Zenit shirt so far. Half time substitute Ryazantsev was rather disappointing. Overall, good attacking football from Villas-Boas again. Zenit have now scored 14 times in 4 games (all wins) after he took charge. The defense doesn’t look as convincing at the moment but that’s OK as long as the attack continues with the scoring spree.
A piece of good news came in just as I was about to post this: Loko – Anzhi ended in a goalless draw, which means Zenit are the first in the league standings again!
Russian League Standings:
Dynamo 43 (-)
Kuban 29 (-)
Rubin 28 (-)
Krylya Sovetov 25
Volga 18 (-)
(-) one game in hand
Next Match: Sat Apr 19, 6:00pm Anzhi – Zenit