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Home News Missed chances and an unassigned penalty: Rostov and Zenit play to a draw in a match of the 23rd round of the Russian Football League
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Missed chances and an unassigned penalty: Rostov and Zenit play to a draw in a match of the 23rd round of the Russian Football League

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

The game was Rostov’s last real chance to challenge Zenit for the championship, because if they won, they would have narrowed the gap to six points. True, even a defeat would practically put an end to the golden race. In addition, if Zenit had won, they would have finished on par with Spartak and with a minimal lead over CSKA.

It is not surprising that the press service of the club announced the confrontation through the movie “Ocean’s 11 friends”- “Karpin’s 11 friends. The meeting with the players from St. Petersburg was presented as an opportunity to take the maximum.

“It is clear that with the current realities and all our problems it will be difficult. But since we’ve got such a card, let’s try to win the whole lot,” Karpin said to Aleksandr Silyanov in his pre-match video.

In reality, both experts were cautious about the upcoming clash. For instance, Sergey Semak refused to call it a championship match, as there is enough time left before the finish. In turn, his opponent urged everyone to remain realistic and complained that the capabilities of his opponents are incomparable.

The visitors also benefited from Willmar Barrios’ return to form. The key holding midfielder recovered prior to the encounter with Lokomotiv, but took to the pitch only in the end. This time he was named in the first minute. But Rodrigao didn`t even appear in the squad for unknown reasons. In his absence Renan was paired in the center of defense by Dmitry Chistyakov. Also, Mateo Cassierra who successfully substituted in Moscow, returned to the bench.

But the southerners faced serious staffing problems. Due to injuries Yevgeniy Chernov, Nikolay Poyarkov, Daniil Utkin and Dmitry Poloz were unable to help their teammates. The hole on the left flank of the defense had to be covered by right-back Andrej Langovic. As for Danil Glebov and Alexei Mironov, Kirill Shchetinin was his partner in the defensive midfield. And Nikolai Komlichenko was supported on the flanks by Khoren Bayramyan and Roman Tugarev.

To their credit, the Bilo-Syni were not going to close down in defense, but tried to take control of the ball from the start and dictate their terms to the wily visitors. To do so, the home team turned on its trademark high pressing. Their attacking three did not allow their opponents to get off to a quiet start. If they passed the first line, three midfielders immediately dropped to the four defenders, forming a powerful defensive block, which was difficult to pass.

In such a situation one could only count on the individual skill of individual performers. However, the leaders were almost invisible before the break. As soon as Claudinho and Malcom received the ball they immediately found themselves under pressure. Maxim Osipenko was especially good on offense. Not only did he not let anyone tackle him down low, but he won six physicals, not letting the St. Petersburg club cling to the ball after Mikhail Kerzhakov carried it out of his own half.

But Semak found a way to break down the opponent’s defense. It was Vyacheslav Karavaev’s interventions. As a result, before the break he missed two chances. First, the defender hit the crossbar with his head after a left cross, and then failed to hit the ball from the center of the penalty box. He also had a memorable shot after a clever pass from Malcom which Claudinho couldn’t finish off.

“Rostov had no similar chances, although they hit the bar twice. As a rule, all the shots of Karpin’s charges were from long range. They also tried to overload Karavaev’s flank, but Barrios was more difficult to beat. Komlichenko also clung to the ball. For example, at the very end of the first half he nearly headed a cross from the right.

It would have been difficult for the Southerners to play in such an energy-consuming manner in the second half. After the break, they forcibly relegated to their own half and allowed their opponents to build up their ball possession to 59%. Semak’s shifts were also helpful. Most importantly, he moved Claudinho into the attacking three. Brazilian stepped up the game on the left flank and interacted with partners while before he was hardly noticeable. Andrei Mostovoy, on the other hand, moved to the right side, untie the hands of Malcom.

All those steps, just like in the previous game against Lokomotiv, helped the leader increase the pressure on goal. Only in Rostov-on-Don no one could score. It was surprising, in fact, that the visitors had only one shot on goal. In fact, their bad luck prevented them from getting three points.

If only to mention the moment when Malcom nearly one-on-one with Pesjakov, but narrowly missed the far post. A little earlier, Wendel, after a pass from his teammate, shot over the top. The goalkeeper was also helpful from time to time. For example, he caught the ball which flew into the far post after a header by Cassierra. By the way, the Colombian failed to score again and was replaced by Sergeyev.

First and foremost, though, Karpin should thank his charges who displayed an incredible level of commitment and kept pressing their opponents hard in every part of the pitch. Shchetinin was particularly good, with four rebounds and a steal, making him the best player in the team in terms of these indicators.

Justifiably, it was he who nearly earned a penalty after one hour of play. After Bayramyan’s pass the midfielder burst into the penalty area, but was brought down by Douglas, who frankly did not have enough time to catch his opponent. Sergey Karasyov took a pause and started talking to his assistants on VAR. The episode was complicated by the unexpected appearance of the second ball on the field. It didn’t take much time to discuss it, and the referee awarded a free kick, believing it was an offside offense. At the same time the referee did not pay attention to the second ball. But even with this standard the home team almost scored. Kerzhakov, after a serve from Mironov, played on the outside and punched the ball straight to Osipenko, who nearly sent it flying into the bottom corner.

At the end of the match Denis Terentyev, who came on as a sub, headed the ball in without any resistance, but his shot was blocked at the last moment. Thus, winnings went to no one. This result, rather, benefited Zenit, who maintained a solid lead over their pursuers. Rostov, on the other hand, is now only one point ahead of Spartak and two ahead of CSKA in the battle for bronze.

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