Russian League, Round 21
April 5, 2015
Zenit 2 – 1 CSKA
Goals: Hulk 62, 73 – Strandberg 81
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Garay (46 Lombaerts), Criscito – Javi Garcia, Witsel, Danny (c) (86 Tymoshchuk) – Ryazantsev (60 Anyukov), Hulk, Shatov
CSKA: Akinfeev – Fernandes, V.Berezutskiy (80 A.Berezutskiy), Ignashevich, Nababkin – Wernbloom, Natkho, Tosic (71 Strandberg), Roman Eremenko, Milanov, Musa
Shatov - Hulk - Ryazantsev
Danny - Witsel
Criscito - Garay - Neto - Smolnikov
Before this fixture Zenit was enjoying a 5-point advantage over CSKA at the top of the standings, so a draw would not be a bad results for the hosts. Both teams started slowly and the first half wasn’t very eventful. Towards the end of the first 45 minutes Danny wasted a 1-on-1 with Akinfeev sending the ball straight at the CSKA keeper. A few minutes later Witsel was brought down in the area but the ref waved play on despite the TV replay showed clear contact with the defender, and thus a penalty. Zenit players protested fiercely, especially Criscito who really went out of bounds and earned a yellow card for his participation. It looked suspicious so I then realized that the Italian would miss the next game (away at Terek) if he got booked, so he used some playacting in order to get his yellow card and avoid going to Chechnya. Smart ass.
The second half again started slowly. On the hour mark Zenit went ahead with a goal out of nowhere: Shatov provided Hulk with the ball and the Brazilian unleashed a great shot from some 17 meters which went into the near top corner, in off the post. About 10 minutes later the hosts caught CSKA on a counter attack, Shatov was able to control Hulk’s crappy pass and centered for Danny, Akinfeev miraculously saved from Danny’s shot but the ball went straight back to Hulk who calmly dispatched it into the open net from close range. About 10 minutes from time CSKA pulled a goal back through substitute Strandberg who controlled a long ball, held off a defender and rolled the ball into the far corner past advancing Lodygin. Excellent execution by the Swedish youngster who looks like another of CSKA’s numerous transfer successes.
This win was essentially a title decider as Zenit has increased their advantage over CSKA to 8 points with only 9 games to go.