Zenit 2 – 1 Rostov

Russian League, Round 14
November 2, 2012
Zenit 2 – 1 Rostov
Goals: Bystrov 52, Shirokov 90+4 – Holenda 79
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Att: 18500

Zenit: Malafeev – Yanbaev, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Criscito – Shirokov, Zyryanov (82 Danni), Witsel – Hulk (Bystrov 41), Kerzhakov, Fayzulin (59 Denisov)
Rostov: Pletikosa – Angbwa, Dyakov, Salata, Getigezhev (69 Kisenkov) – Bentley (62 Kalachev), Sheshukov, Gatcan, Cesnauskis – Sinama-Pongolle (78 Kirichenko), Holenda

In the first half Zenit dominated but the game remained goalless. In particular, Fayzulin was responsible for premature endings of many of the hosts’ attacks. The guy definitely had a bad day and was the worst player on the pitch. On the brighter side, the best was probably Axel Witsel. With Zyryanov playing the defensive midfielder, Witsel was finally allowed a more attacking role in the middle and he had an absolutely magnificent game. Hulk sustained a muscle injury in the end of the first half. Might be a blessing in disguise, because he did not impress while his substitute Bystrov definitely did.

Seven minutes after the restart, Witsel released Bystrov with a short pass in midfield, the fastest Zenit player ran forward, played a one-two with Kerzhakov near Rostov area, and then beat Pletikosa at his near post with a firm shot to complete the excellent counter attack. Again I don’t understand why Bystrov was not included in the starting lineup. (And why Fayzulin was, for that matter.) After the goal, the hosts continued to create opportunities and the second half was pretty entertaining. That’s until ten minutes from the end in a rare Rostov attack Holenda headed in a simple cross from the left, completely against the run of play. The hosts looked shocked after the goal and allowed Rostov to take control of the game. With the draw looking inevitable, in the last minute of the injury time Shirokov headed in Criscito’s cross from the left. Happy end, but I would expect from Zenit more convincing home wins against underdogs.

The night at Petrovsky also saw two comebacks: Denisov finally had admitted he was wrong in his contractual dispute and ended his strike. He had made the statement on the Zenit official site the day before the game, was included back in the squad, and came on as a sub on the hour mark. The other comeback was Miguel Danni. He had injured ligaments in his knee in early February and has spent nearly nine months without football. He showed up on the pitch about ten minutes before the end. Welcome back!

Zenit 30*
Anzhi 29
Kuban 25*
Terek 25
Spartak 22
Rubin 21
Loko 21
(*) played one game more than the other teams

Next Match: Nov 6, 11:45pm Anderlecht – Zenit

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