Anzhi 1 – 2 Zenit

Russian League, Round 26
Apr 19, 2014
Anzhi 1 – 2 Zenit
Goals: Smolov 29 – Rondon 9, Danny 62
Kaspiysk, Anzhi Arena
Att: 21200

Anzhi: M.Kerzhakov – Gadzhibekov, Yeschenko, Grigalava, Epureanu – Ahmedov, Bilyaletdinov (53 Gadzhiev), Smolov (77 Serderov), Maksimov, Bukharov, Bystrov (71 Sobolev)
Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Lombaerts (c), Criscito – Witsel, Fayzulin, Danny (85 Ansaldi) – Hulk (74 Tymoshchuk), Rondon, Arshavin (60 Shatov)

Anzhi coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev fielded as many as 4 former Zenit players: Maksimov, Bukharov, Bystrov, and goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov (a brother of the Zenit striker). Bukharov and Bystrov still have contracts with Zenit; they have been loaned off to Dagestan by former coach Spalletti and both had a point to prove in this match. Zenit had the same lineup as in the previous game:

      Arshavin - Rondon - Hulk
               Danny
         Fayzulin - Witsel
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Smolnikov
              Lodygin

It was a very open game in the first half, with both sides having numerous scoring chances. Bilyaletdinov missed an absolute sitter early on. Zenit responded with a short passing move Rondon-Danny-Witsel-Rondon through the center of Anzhi defense and the Venezuelan coolly slotted the ball home for the opener. On the other end Bukharov came close twice; he was visibly very motivated and played his best game in years. On the half hour mark Neto’s terrible clearence ended at the feet of Smolov whose half-volley reached the target, 1-1. Despite this setback, Zenit continued to play attractive free-flowing football and to create chances. By half time, the score could have been 3-3 easily but bad finishing somehow prevented both sides from scoring more.

The second half turned out to be different. There was not as much shots on goal and the only goal of the second 45 minutes came again after a short passing move through the center, this time it was between Hulk-Rondon-Danny, with the latter spectacularly smashing the ball into the near top corner. The hosts made attempts to equalize late in the game but Zenit held on to the all-important three points.

Russian League Standings:
Zenit 56
Loko 55
———-
CSKA 52
Dynamo 46
Spartak 44
———-
Krasnodar 43
Amkar 36
Rostov 35
Kuban 32
Rubin 31
Ural 27
Terek 26
———-
Krylya Sovetov 25
Tom 24
———-
Volga 21
Anzhi 16

Scorers:

16 (3 pen) Hulk (Zenit)
15 (3) Dumbia (CSKA)
15 (4) Dzyuba (Rostov)
14 (2) Movsisyan (Spartak)
13 (0) N'Doye (Loko)
12 (0) Danny (Zenit)
11 (0) Rondon (Zenit)
9 (0) Kokorin (Dynamo)
9 (0) Tosic (CSKA)
9 (0) Wanderson (Krasnodar)
9 (1) Gogniev (Ural)
9 (7) Peev (Amkar)
8 (1) Shirokov (Krasnodar)
8 (5) Ailton (Terek)

Next Match: Sat Apr 26, 4:30pm Zenit – Volga

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Attacking Football Is Here To Stay: Zenit 4 – 1 Krasnodar

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
Att: 19400

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
               Danny
         Fayzulin - Witsel
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Smolnikov
              Lodygin

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:
Zenit 53
Loko 52
———-
CSKA 49
Spartak 44
Dynamo 43 (-)
———-
Krasnodar 40
Amkar 36
Rostov 35
Kuban 29 (-)
Rubin 28 (-)
Terek 26
Krylya Sovetov 25
———-
Ural 24
Tom 21
———-
Volga 18 (-)
Anzhi 15

(-) one game in hand

Next Match: Sat Apr 19, 6:00pm Anzhi – Zenit

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Zenit 6 – 2 Rubin

Russian League, Round 24
April 6, 2014
Zenit 6 – 2 Rubin
Goals: Hulk 19 pen, 35 pen, Rondon 68, 79, 90, Danny 75 – Azmoun 64, Eremenko 82 pen
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Att: 17900

Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Lombaerts (c), Criscito – Tymoshchuk, Witsel (66 Ryazantsev), Fayzulin – Hulk, Kerzhakov (66 Rondon), Danny (77 Arshavin)
Rubin: Nesterenko – Kuzmin, Navas, Kvirkvelia, Getigezhev – Eremenko, Kulik, Mogilevets, Karadeniz, Azmoun, Devic (80 Nurov)

For the home game versus Rubin, Andre Villas-Boas had chosen a more attacking-oriented formation, with a single defensive midfielder Tymoshchuk in front of the back four (and Tymoshchuk eventually had a very good game, exceeding expectations):

      Danny - Kerzhakov - Hulk
          Fayzulin - Witsel
             Tymoshchuk
Criscito - Lombaerts (c)- Neto - Smolnikov
               Lodygin

Rubin had their first choice goalkeeper Ryzhikov suspended because of a red card in the previous round. Rostov forward Dzyuba was responsible for earning him that red card with a dive, he apologized after the game but the rules weren’t allowing to cancel the suspension. Ryzhikov’s replacement Nesterenko ended up conceding six goals at Petrovsky though he wasn’t really at fault in any of them.

It was mostly an even game in the first half, the hosts enjoyed more possession but there were almost no shots on goal. Hulk scored twice from the penalty spot. Both penalties looked legit: first Danny was (needlessly) fouled in the area, then Smolnikov.

In the second 45 minutes the game exploded with goals but the 6-2 scoreline is somewhat flattering to Zenit. The hosts managed to convert most of their scoring chances while Rubin had about as many shots on goal but Lodygin was excellent in the Zenit goal making about half a dozen of good saves, and the visitors also hit the woodwork twice. Man of the match Salomon Rondon only came on as a sub in the 66th minute and it took him just a couple of minutes to demonstrate why I rate him so much higher than Kerzhakov (who was terrible on the day), the Venezuelan headed in Smolnikov’s cross from the right with his first touch of the ball. He later completed his hat-trick by adding two more goals, one with his left foot and one with his right. What a great finisher he is. Rondon also assisted Danny for his goal, a nice curling shot into the corner after a fast counter attack. The first Rubin goal was due to Lodygin’s error, and the second came from a penalty earned by Karadeniz with a ridiculous dive.

AVB’s first three matches at the helm of Zenit resulted in three wins. Moreover, the team clearly started playing more attacking (and more attractive) football. This is a very positive development, especially because having so many great attacking players in the squad it wouldn’t be smart to have them play defensively. Zenit are now second in the league table, just one point behind Lokomotiv. It’s now between these two clubs to decide who grabs the title this year, with the culminating point of the title race expected on May 4 when Loko and Zenit will face each other in Moscow.

Russian League Standings:
Loko 51
Zenit 50
———-
CSKA 46
Dynamo 43
Spartak 41
———-
Krasnodar 40
Amkar 35
Rostov 35
Kuban 29
Rubin 28
Ural 24
Krylya Sovetov 24
———-
Terek 22
Tom 20
———-
Volga 18
Anzhi 15

Next Match: Sat Apr 12, 7:30pm Zenit – Krasnodar

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Amkar 1 – 2 Zenit

Russian League, Round 23
March 29, 2014
Amkar 1 – 2 Zenit
Goals: Kanunnikov 18 – Criscito 49, Kerzhakov 54
Perm, Zvezda Stadium
Att: 15500

Amkar: Narubin – Sirakov, Fibel, Belorukov, Zbozien (60 Khodzhaniyazov) – Gol (57 Vasilyev), Georgiev, Ogude, Kolomeytsev, Kanunnikov Jakubko (66 Peev)
Zenit: Lodygin – Anyukov (c), Neto, Lombaerts, Criscito – Tymoshchuk, Witsel, Danny (88 Ansaldi) – Hulk, Kerzhakov (82 Smolnikov), Shatov (24 Ryazantsev)

Going into the game, Amkar coach Cherchesov could boast a good record against Zenit with all teams that he worked at, a total of two wins, two draws, and only one loss. The week before Cherchesov was supposed to take over Spartak Moscow who had just fired coach Valery Karpin recently, but he could not reach an agreement with the Moscow club and stayed at Perm (the news broke just today that he has eventually left Amkar to work at Dynamo Moscow). Andre Villas-Boas didn’t have Fayzulin available for this match because of suspension (4 yellow cards), so veteran Tymoshchuk returned to the starting lineup to take up his place as one of the two defensive midfielders. The Zenit formation for the game on the artificial pitch of the Zvezda Stadium:

     Shatov - Kerzhakov - Hulk
               Danny
        Witsel - Tymoshchuk
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Anyukov
              Lodygin

(Shatov got injured midway through the first half and was replaced by Ryazantsev who played in the trequartista role while Danny moved to the left wing of the attack.)

Amkar applied pressure from the start not allowing the visitors to display any creative football, and the game wasn’t very entertaining in the first 45 minutes. On 18 minutes Criscito failed to get back into defense in time after going forward, Amkar sent a long ball down the right and former Zenit forward Maxim Kanunnikov opened the scoiring with a beautiful shot from distance into the far upper corner, Lodygin coyuld not do anything about it.

Second half: 4 minutes after the break Kerzhakov made a low cross into the area, the ball got deflected and bounced to Witsel who had the open goal at his mercy but took too long and his shot was blocked by a defender, luckily the ball bounced to Criscito who sent it into the net. A few minutes later Hulk broke down the right and crossed for Kerzhakov who was standing alone in the area and he calmly sidefooted into the corner for 2-1. The rest of the second half was exciting to watch because the hosts had to go forward leaving spaces for Zenit counter attacks. Danny missed a sitter once, and Witsel failed to score in front of the open net for the second time in this match. Witsel in the second half moved into the attacking midfielder role alongside Ryazantsev (who BTW had a terrible game, a big difference from what he was showing at the training camps during the winter break). Tymoshchuk was Zenit’s only DM in the second half; his passing wasn’t very convincing but his tackles were still as good as in the old days of 2007-08.

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Lodygin Heroics Ensure Good AVB Debut: Zenit 2 – 1 Krylya Sovetov

Russian League, Round 22
March 24, 2014
Zenit 2 – 1 Krylya Sovetov
Goals: Hulk 5 pen, Veremko 52 og – Tsallagov 54
Missed Penalties: Caballero 59 (saved), 68 (saved)
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Att: 18750

Zenit: Lodygin – Anyukov (c), Neto, Lombaerts, Criscito – Witsel, Fayzulin (82 Ryazantsev), Danny (61 Tymoshchuk) – Hulk, Kerzhakov (69 Rondon), Shatov
Krylya Sovetov: Veremko – Verkhovtsov, Taranov, Yatchenko, Goreux – Tsallagov, Drahun, Nemov (79 Makhmudov), Semshov (79 Kornilenko), Ruslan Adzhindzhal, Caballero

The first game of Andre Villas-Boas as the head coach of Zenit. The formation didn’t seem to change, also same positions for Danny and Shatov as in the Dortmund game:

     Shatov - Kerzhakov - Hulk
               Danny
         Fayzulin - Witsel
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Anyukov
              Lodygin

The game started with constant Zenit attacks. Danny missed an absolute sitter after just two minutes. A couple of minutes later Kerzhakov earned a penalty with an awkward dive after the defender cleanly tackled the ball. Hulk smashed the spot kick in just under the crossbar. Zenit’s great attacking football in the first 25 minutes made me very optimistic, there was a huge difference compared to the recent terrible games versus Tom and CSKA. Unfortunately later in the first half the hosts slowed down and allowed Krylya to play some football too.

Early in the second half, the opponents exchanged goals in quick succession. First Hulk dribbled to the byline and sent a low ball across goal, and the Samara goalkeeper Veremko somehow managed to deflect the ball into his own net with his hand. Just two minutes later, Tsallagov was left unmarked at the far post by the Zenit defense, the low ball from the right came to him through the pack of players in the area and he sent it into the net; Lodygin could have done better as the shot was directed almost straight at him but the ball bounced off his leg into the net. Overall, the visitors were the better side in the second half. This can be attributed to the bad physical shape of the Zenit players who had a Champions League game last Wednesday.

Now to the culminating moments of the night: In one of Krylya attacks the ball hit Fayzulin’s hand in the area, penalty. Lodygin first excellently saved Caballero’s low shot, and then blocked the forward’s followup on the rebound from point blank range (blocked with his balls actually). Fantastic saves. A few minutes later came another penalty, this time a bullshit one. Lombaerts was judged to have commited a foul on Caballero in the area, while I believe it was a dive. Moreover, the ref completely missed the Paraguayan forward’s handball just before the challenge. I generally tend to not discuss refereeing, but I have to say that Karasev who officiated the game is the worst ref of all those who currently work in the Russian league, bad even by very low standards of officiating in this league. Sure I’m not saying he’s biased, not at all, but he seemingly lacks proper understanding of football. Anyway, Lodygin made a miracle by saving Caballero’s second spot kick as well, this time in his left-hand corner; unlike the first one the shot wasn’t particularly good. In the end, Zenit held on to the 2-1 win.

A good start for the new coach Villas-Boas. He still has a chance to win the league this season.

Russian League Standings:
Loko 47
Zenit 44
———-
Spartak 40
CSKA 40
Dynamo 40
———-
Krasnodar 37
Amkar 35
Rostov 29
Rubin 28
Kuban 26
Krylya Sovetov 24
Tom 20
———-
Terek 19
Volga 18
———-
Ural 18
Anzhi 12

Next Match: Sat Mar 29, 4:00pm Amkar – Zenit

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Zenit Announced Andre Villas-Boas As New Coach

On Thursday March 20, the Zenit FC introduced the new head coach, Andre Villas-Boas. The Portuguese signed a contract which will keep him at the St.Petersburg club until the end of 2015/16 season. Villas-Boas previously worked at Tottenham, Chelsea, and Porto.

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Borussia Dortmund 1 – 2 Zenit

Champions League 1/8 Finals Second Leg
March 19, 2014
Borussia Dortmund 1 – 2 Zenit
Goals: Kehl 38 – Hulk 16, Rondon 73
Dortmund, Westfalenstadion
Att: 65500

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer (77 Durm) – Kehl, Sahin, Grosskreutz, Mkhitaryan (69 Jojic), Aubameyang (90+1 Hofmann), Lewandowski
Zenit: Malafeev – Anyukov (c), Hubocan, Lombaerts (46 Neto), Criscito – Witsel, Fayzulin (84 Smolnikov), Danny – Hulk, Kerzhakov (62 Rondon), Shatov

Finally, a great Zenit game again after a very long period of unconvincing performances. This was the second game with interim coach Sergei Semak in charge. He made two notable decisions: to put Malafeev in goal and play Danny as central offensive midfilder. I’d say both picks were successful, in particular Malafeev is known at being very good at making wonder saves on the goalline which was going to be a useful skill in view of imminent dangerous Dortmund attacks.

      Shatov - Kerzhakov - Hulk
                Danny
          Fayzulin - Witsel
Criscito - Lombaerts - Hubocan - Anyukov
               Malafeev

Great tempo in the first half with both sides playing extremely fast (bordering with chaotic at times) and Zenit having more possession. Aubameyang should have scored inside 5 minutes but headed wide off the empty net after Malafeev went for a cross and got nowhere (OK, he’s only good on the goalline). Instead, Hulk opened the scoring with a fantastic drive from some 25 meters after his trademark move inside from the right. A few minutes before the break Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl headed in the equalizer after a cross from the left, this time Malafeev didn’t bother to go for the cross at all.

After the break it was mostly an even game. Substitute Rondon connected well with a diving header after Criscito’s diagonal cross to put the visitors in front for the second time in the game, and 1-2 it stayed.

A very good game by Zenit, and a demonstration of how good things could be if the club had fired Spalletti earlier. Zenit’s man of the match was Witsel with his dominance over the midfield. Danny had an OK game in his new role as well. Hulk was guilty of destroying many Zenit’s attacking moves by loosing the ball way too often. Shatov was very active on the left wing but not as useful. Kerzhkov was terrible and got substituted after an hour.

Now that this season’s European campaign is over, the club officially announced the new coach, Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas, on Thursday.

Next Match: Mon Mar 24, 7:00pm Zenit – Krylya Sovetov

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CSKA 1 – 0 Zenit

Russian League, Round 21
March 15, 2014
CSKA 1 – 0 Zenit
Goal: Milanov 31
Khimki, Arena Khimki
Att: 14200

CSKA: Akinfeev – Fernandes, V.Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, Schennikov – Elm, Milanov (83 Vitinho), Tosic (85 Zuber), Dzagoev, Musa, Doumbia (90+2 Bazelyuk)
Zenit: Lodygin – Anyukov (c), Hubocan, Lombaerts, Smolnikov – Witsel, Fayzulin (46 Shatov), Ryazantsev (83 Zyryanov) – Hulk, Rondon, Danny (46 Kerzhakov)

        Danny - Rondon - Hulk
             Ryazantsev
          Fayzulin - Witsel
Smolnikov - Lombaerts - Hubocan - Anyukov
               Lodygin

The game started slowly with neither team threatening the goal in the first quarter of an hour. After 15 minutes Hulk hit the inside of the post with a good low shot from the edge of the area, unlucky not to score. The visitors were the better side in the first 20 minutes, then the hosts took control of the game. While CSKA did not create any clear cut chances, in one of the attacks a firm Milanov shot from distance reached the top corner of the Zenit net, Lodygin clearly didn’t expect it and was rooted to the spot, he was probably screened by other players at the moment of the shot.

Semak (who had his first official game as head coach) made two substitutions at half time, surprisingly Ryazantsev stayed on the pitch despite he was completely awful in the first half. Danny also had bad 45 minutes and made way for Kerzhakov at the break. In the second half, CSKA sat back which made things more difficult for Zenit who are known to be not very good at breaking the dense defense. The visitors were absolutely terrible in the second 45 minutes and did not create anything of significance except for a sole good shot by Kerzhakov. An awful Zenit game overall.

Zenit now has collected 6 points out of the last 7 games but strangely is still second in the league, because the competitors are doing equally bad. No club deserves the title this season really.

Russian League Standings:
Loko 44
Zenit 41
———-
Spartak 40
Dynamo 39
CSKA 37
———-
Krasnodar 34
Amkar 34
Rostov 28
Rubin 27
Kuban 26
Krylya Sovetov 24
Volga 18
———-
Ural 18
Tom 17
———-
Terek 16
Anzhi 12

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Spalletti Fired, Semak Interim Zenit Coach

The news broke Monday night that the Italian coach Luciano Spalletti was no longer at the helm of Zenit, after being fired by the club.

Spalletti started working at Zenit in December 2009. He won two consequtive league titles with the St.Petersburg club in his first two seasons. However, 2013 was generally unsuccessful year for Zenit (no silverware) despite that the club brought in two very expensive star players, Hulk and Witsel. The decision to part ways with the Italian comes after Zenit has managed only one win in the last ten games. In my view, the coach should have been replaced much earlier, in summer 2013, before the new season. (In that case the club would have to pay off the rest of Spalletti’s big contract which was a significant amount of money.) The problem with the decision coming too late is that Zenit now is only second in the title race and also the club lost Shirokov and Bystrov who might have stayed had the club replaced the coach earlier.

Former player Sergei Semak has been appointed as interim coach. Semak spent most of his career at CSKA and became a kind of a legend there. Before ending his career at Zenit (and winning two league titles in the process) he also spent two seasons at Rubin helping them to also win the league twice. Semak has totalled five league titles in Russia with his three clubs. I have great respect for his abilities and believe he can be very successful as a coach as well.

Update (Mar 12):

First, I forgot to mention that after ending his player career Semak of course has been working at Zenit as one of Spalletti’s assistants.

Second, people say the club wanted to fire Spalletti last summer in what would have been an obvious move but the coach convinced the management that he would be able to “create a new team”. He failed, and in December allegedly wanted to quit the job but the club did not accept his resignation (why?!). These are only rumors though.

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Zenit 0 – 0 Tom

Russian League, Round 20
March 9, 2014
Zenit 0 – 0 Tom
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Att: 18200

Zenit: Lodygin – Anyukov, Hubocan, Neto, Criscito – Witsel, Ryazantsev (74 Danny), Shatov (59 Kerzhakov) – Hulk, Rondon, Fayzulin (c) (64 Zyryanov)
Tom: Cebanu – Milanov, Jiranek, Rykov, Bardachow – Sabitov (72 Muresan), Bashkirov, Ignatovich (83 Bazhenov), Panchenko, Nyakhaychyk (76 Portnyagin), Holenda

    Fayzulin - Rondon - Hulk
            Shatov
       Ryazantsev - Witsel
Criscito - Hubocan - Neto - Anyukov
             Lodygin

What a bore. Another crap game by Zenit.

In the first half, the visitors looked well organized and defended well. Zenit enjoyed more possession but without creating any significant threats. Rondon came close with a header once but the ball went wide.

In the second half things started to look even worse for the hosts. They still dominated possession but Tom became dangerous on counter attacks and should have scored after two of them, only the low class of the Tomsk players prevented them from finding the net. The vistitors were even a slightly the better side in the second 45 minutes, and Zenit’s man of the match Lodygin had to make a couple of good saves. At the other end, substitute Kerzhakov had a decent shot on goal in the injury time for the best Zenit chance of the half.

I meant to write that this current team was hopeless and that the change of coach looked inevitable but Spalletti had gotten fired by the club before I wrote this post.

Russian League Standings:
Loko 43
Zenit 41
———-
Spartak 39
Dynamo 38
CSKA 34
———-
Krasnodar 33
Amkar 33
Kuban 25
Rostov 25
Rubin 24
Krylya Sovetov 24
Volga 18
———-
Tom 16
Terek 16
———-
Ural 15
Anzhi 11

Next Match: Sat Mar 15, 4:00pm CSKA – Zenit

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