FC Zenit Rally For Win in Yekaterinburg
Published: October 30, 2013 (Issue # 1784)
Two second-half goals from Russian midfielder Roman Shirokov helped Zenit escape from Yekaterinburg with a 2-1 victory and all three points after going behind to opponent Ural at the end of the first half.
Hulk had a chance to put Zenit ahead early in the game after being taken down in the penalty box by Ural goalkeeper Alexei Solosin. Surprisingly, the sure-footed Brazilian put the resulting penalty kick wide of the post, missing the opportunity to score his eighth goal of the season.
The St. Petersburg side was punished for their error in the 42nd minute when a poor pass allowed Ural striker Spartak Gogniev to get behind the Zenit defense and blast the ball past goalkeeper Yuri Lodigin.
Shirokov leveled the score in the 53rd minute after a lofted ball over the top was headed down into the middle of the penalty box and Shirokov was able to beat the goalkeeper to the loose ball, lobbing it over Solosin’s outstretched hands and into the net.
The Russian doubled his tally for the day in the 78th minute, heading in at the near post after a perfect cross from Oleg Shatov. Shirokov’s goal gave the club the lead and they never looked back in a result that keeps Zenit at the top of the Russian Premier League table and Ural second from bottom with only one win in 14 matches.
Italian manager Luciano Spalletti was quick to praise Ural’s performance in a game many thought would be easier for the St. Petersburg club. “Ural played superbly,” Spalletti said in a statement published on Zenit’s English-language website. “They hardly allowed us to create anything on the pitch, and played against us really tightly, and compactly, when it was necessary.”
The win in Yekaterinburg came after a midweek trip to Porto where they defeated the defending Portuguese league champions FC Porto 1-0 in UEFA Champions League play.
Zenit’s travels continue as they head across the Urals to Siberia on Wednesday to face Tyumen in the Russian Cup before returning home for a Saturday evening encounter with FK Amkar Perm in the Russian Premier League.
In other action from around the league, Kryliya Sovetov tied Volga Nizhny Novgorod 2-2 on Friday evening.
Spartak Moscow won at home 2-0 against FK Rostov-on-Don on Saturday while their rivals Dinamo Moscow lost in Perm 2-1 against FK Amkar Perm. In Siberia, FK Tom Tomsk and Terek Grozny played out a goalless draw.
Champions CSKA returned to their winning ways Sunday after a disappointing defeat against Manchester City in the Champions League Wednesday, crushing Krasnodar 5-1 thanks in part to Zoran Tosic’s first-half hat-trick. Lokomotiv Moscow kept up the pressure on league-leaders Zenit by winning on the road 2-1 against FK Rubin Kazan.
Kuban Krasnodar defeated cellar-dwellers Anzhi Makhachkala 2-0 Monday evening to wrap up the action from the 14th round in the top flight.
At nearly the halfway point of the season, Zenit remain first in the league with a five-point cushion over second-place Lokomotiv. Spartak remains tied with Lokomotiv on points but sits in third due to goal differential.
At the bottom, winless Anzhi Makhachkala remain anchored to last place, two points behind Ural and three behind both FK Tom Tomsk and Caucasus rivals Terek Grozny.