sports blog by andy shenk

CSKA’s Love Too Much for Alania: Russian Premier League Weekend Wrap

In Russian Football on April 2, 2013 at 9:35 AM

My latest for The False Nine. Russian Premi. Quick rundown of all the action in the Russian Premier League over the weekend. To read the entire piece click here or at the bottom of this excerpt. 

With eight games to play, CSKA Moscow’s 4-0 drubbing of Alania in Vladikavkaz pulled the Army Men eight points clear of the pack in the race for the 2012/2013 Russian Premier League title. It’s been six and a half years since the club won its last domestic title and just as long of a championship drought for the Russian capital.

On Monday night in North Ossetia, the visitors made short work of Valery Gazzaev’s revamped roster. Alan Dzagoev, who originally hails from the North Caucasus republic, knocked in Vagner Love’s rebound in the 25th minute to cool off an energetic home side. In the second half, Love, who played for CSKA from 2004-2011, collected a brace in his third match back from Brazilian club Flamengo, while Doumbia rounded out the scoring in extra time after comical defending by Bosnian defender Ogjnen Vranjes.

Alania, though promising at times up front, fully deserved its 4-0 defeat. Two successive four-goal defeats (5-1 to Amkar on March 16th) leave the team bottom of the league, five points back of the relegation playoffs and 14th-placed Krylia Sovetov.

Alania’s task to remain in the Premier League next season could have been much more daunting, if not for Mordovia’s 2-0 win in Samara. Of the six clubs battling to avoid relegation at the foot of the Premier League table, Mordovia have been most effective this spring. The Saransk club fired Fedor Shcherbachenko in December and brought in Daniel Munteanu to turn things around. The former Romanian national team midfielder has done his part thus far, debuting with a shocking 2-0 win over Anzhi at home, before taking three vital points on Saturday.

Mordovia was simply much better than Krylia Sovetov this weekend. Apart from Shamil Lakhiyalov’s egregious miss in the 6th minute, the home team hardly threatened. Mordovia went ahead on an Anton Bober corner in the 28th, headed in coolly by Daniel Opritsa. Captain Ruslan Mukhametshin doubled the advantage just before halftime.

Back at the top of the table, the momentum in the race for Russia’s second Champions League spot has shifted to Zenit. In its most impressive performance yet in 2013, Zenit drilled Terek 3-0 before a nearly sold-out Anzhi Arena.

The game was played in Makhachkala, about 170 km from Grozny, after Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov earned his stadium a one-match ban for entering the referees’ room in Akhmat Arena on March 17th to complain about the officiating during a scoreless draw with Rubin.

Approximately 20,000 fans made the three-hour drive east to cheer on Terek, but Axel Witsel quieted the crowd already in the 8th minute. Left all alone in the box on a Hulk corner, the Belgian international headed home for his third Premier League goal in 12 appearances. Though Kerzhakov was denied at the spot a few minutes later by Yaroslav Godzyur, second-half goals from Brunu Alves and Konstantin Zyryanov, along with Terek defender Fedor Kudryashov’s ejection just before the break, made it a trouble-free three points in Dagestan for Luciano Spalletti’s men.

The win pulled Zenit two points clear of Anzhi into 2nd place as Guus Hiddink’s club slumped to a 4-0 defeat hours earlier in Krasnodar. Winless now in six straight matches, dating back to a 1-1 draw in Hannover in the Europa League round of 32, Anzhi have collected only one point from nine in the Premier League this spring.

Continue reading at The False Nine

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