Zenit One Step Closer To The Title: Kuban 0 – 0 Zenit

Russian League, Round 24
April 19, 2015
Kuban 0 – 0 Zenit
Krasnodar, Kuban Stadium
Att: 9750

Kuban: Belenov – Yeschenko, Xandao, Sunjic – Rabiu (89 Kulik), Kabore, Sosnin, Ignatyev (64 Melgarejo), Popov, Tkachev – Hugo Almeida (77 Ibrahima Balde)
Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Garay, Lombaerts, Anyukov – Neto, Ryazantsev (60 Rondon), Witsel – Danny (c), Hulk, Shatov (87 Arshavin)

        Danny - Hulk - Shatov
         Witsel - Ryazantsev
Anyukov - Lombaerts - Garay - Smolnikov

Defensive midfielders Javi Garcia (suspension) and Tymoshchuk (injury) were unavailable so Villas-Boas surprised everybody when he played central defender Luis Neto in front of the defense. As a result, instead of the usual reliable filter in this part of the pitch (Javi Garcia and/or Witsel and/or Tymoshchuk) Zenit allowed the hosts a lot of space for the buildup of their attacks. That led to an entertaining game where both sides had numerous chances. Maybe Zenit were a slightly better side but I wouldn’t say deserved the 3 points. The draw was OK especially because all other teams in the top 4 in the standings drew their respective matches too, so the Petersburgers kept their 8-point lead over Krasnodar at the top of the standings. In fact the players knew the results of the other matches in this round because all other games of the day have finished already before the Kuban game started. But I don’t think this affected the outcome, Zenit still played for the win but Hulk had a bad game and the whole team looked a bit tired in the second half. In any case the league table looks more than OK:

Russian League Standings:
Zenit 56
Krasnodar 48
Dynamo 43*
Rubin 43
Spartak 39
Loko 38
Kuban 32
Terek 30

(*) game in hand

Next Match: Thu Apr 23, 10:05pm Zenit – Sevilla

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