Roman Shirokov Steals The Show: Zenit 3 – 1 Volga

Russian League, Round 29
May 19, 2013
Zenit 3 – 1 Volga
Goals: Luis Neto 35, Fayzulin 80, Shirokov 90+1 – Shulenin 17
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky stadium
Att: 18600

Zenit: Malafeev – Anyukov, Neto, Bruno Alves, Hubocan – Zyryanov (89 Mogilevets), Witsel, Fayzulin – Hulk, Bukharov (60 Kerzhakov), Djordjevic (60 Shirokov 90+2 sent off)
Volga: M. Kerzhakov – Polyanin, Polchak, Belozerov, Bordiyan (57 Bulgaru) – Karyaka (76 sent off), Shulenin, Plesan (68 Bibilov), R. Adzhindzhal, Putsilo (82 Salugin), Sarkisov

CSKA had celebrated thier league title the day before after a goalless draw at home to Kuban so Zenit players didn’t have much to play for in terms of points because the team would end up second in the league regardless of the outcomes of the last two fixtures. Spalletti made changes to the starting lineup introducing Bukharov and Luka Djordjevic from the first minute. Denisov wasn’t even on the bench because of a mysterious ‘injury’; it might be that the club finally decided to get rid of him? I’d definitely hope so.

Fayzulin wasted a good chance early on when his shot went over the bar. Nothing much was happening on the pitch. On 12 minutes however the Zenit defence went asleep allowing Shulenin to tap in from Polyanin’s center. On 33 minutes Zenit worked a short corner, Fayzulin skipped past a defender to the byline and sent a cross to the far post where Luis Neto headed into the empty corner, his first goal in the Zenit shirt. A minute before the break Malafeev made a good save from a low long range shot by Karyaka.

During the interval, there was an emotional ceremony: 37-year old Sergei Semak was saying farewell to professional football. His contract expires at the end of the season but he’s currently injured so he has drawn a line under his 20 year career. Great player, and a great personality.

Back to football. The second half was no better than the first. The dismissal of Volga’s Karyaka for the second bookable offense after 75 minutes did not seem to disturb the sleepy football. On the hour mark Spalletti made two substitutions, Kerzhakov and Shirokov on for Bukharov and Djordjevic. You know, I hadn’t expected anything good from Bukha “The Sleeping Giant” but the young Montenegrin really disappointed, definitely not a good game for him. Still I rate him as a very talented and promising young player. When Shirokov came on the pitch, he got booed and whistled by the hard core fans of the Virazh, the whistling and some indecent chanting aimed at him continued through the rest of the game. All of this was due to the last game’s incident when Roman had a falling out with the coach. At the time of the substitute, one of the TV commentators said “It would be good if he scored today”. The things turned out a bit differently though. But first came a marvelous moment about tem minutes from the end, a one-touch passing move between Witsel, Anyukov, Kerzhakov (with a backheel), Witsel again, Hulk, Witsel once again, put Viktor Fayzulin clear on goal and the midfielder sent a firm low shot which went in between the goalkeeper’s legs, wonderful goal. In the injury time Hulk fed Kerzhakov with a pass, Kerzh took some time to turn the defender inside out in the Volga area before finally centering for Shirokov who was waiting patiently right in front of goal, to tap in from close range. After getting the ball into the net, Shirokov responded to Virazh with an obscene gesture (repeated twice) and was immediately shown the red card by the referee.

The Zenit midfielder (who later apologized) subsequently got a two-match disqualification for the incident which served as another prove of the bad team morale at Zenit at the moment. We’ll see what happens in midseason in terms of the changes to the roster. So far, there were only rumours Zenit had signed former player Timoschuk back from Bayern, would be a great replacement for Denisov should the club decide to sell him.

Russian League Standings:
Zenit 61
Anzhi 53
Spartak 48
Kuban 48
Dynamo 47
Rubin 47
Terek 45
Krasnodar 42
Loko 40

Next Match: Sun May 26 1:30pm Amkar – Zenit

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