Sobolev kickstarts Spartak thrashing of Pakhtakor

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Spartak Moscow completed their winter training preparations with a resounding 4-0 win over Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor at the Otkritie Arena on Saturday. Aleksandr Sobolev opened the scoring, and was followed by Ezequiel Ponce, Jordan Larsson and Guus Til.

Although Spartak threatened as early as the fourth minute when Ilya Kutepov volleyed well over from a loose header out, Aleksandr Maksimenko was by far the busier keeper in the opening quarter of an hour.

After 18 minutes Spartak came much closer to scoring through Roman Zobnin. Strong hold-up play from Sobolev provided a shooting opportunity for the midfielder that was tipped over the bar.

Zobnin turned provider for his striker two minutes later as his corner was met inside the six-yard box for the simplest of near-post headers. Five minutes later an almost identical delivery from Zobnin was glanced over the keeper by Ponce to assert Spartak’s control.

Now with their tails up, Spartak pushed forward more confidently, with Zobnin in particular enjoying more possession in advanced positions. He came within inches of turning in Ayrton’s drilled cross-shot eight minutes before the break.

Ten minutes after half time Zelimkhan Bakaev’s inventive chipped assist released Zobnin into the box, but he couldn’t quite find the telling touch to set up Ponce or Sobolev past the onrushing keeper.

Dragan Ceran tested Maksimenko’s reflexes by forcing a flying one-handed save from distance just before the hour mark. Jordan Larsson replied with a stunning, curling strike from 25 yards that crashed back off the crossbar.

With eight minutes left, however, he got on the scoresheet with a precise finish from the edge of the penalty area. Reziuan Mirzov - who had only just come off the bench - fed him after some high pressing had won the ball back deep in Pakhtakor’s half.

Shortly after Til added the icing on the cake with a finish from his own run that flew into the far corner from a good 20 yards out. Larsson may have neglected to return the favour to Mirzov in added time, but by then the result was well beyond doubt.

Spartak resume their Russian Premier Liga campaign with the derby away to Dynamo Moscow on Saturday 29 February.

Spartak Moscow 4-0 Pakhtakor
22 February, Otkritie Arena, Moscow
Goals: Sobolev (22’), Ponce (27’), Larsson (84’), Til (87’)

Spartak Moscow: Maksimenko, Rasskazov (Eshchenko 75’), Kutepov, Gigot, Dzhikia, Ayrton (Melgarejo 83’), Kral, Zobnin (Guliev 83’), Bakaev (Til 75’), Ponce (Mirzov 83’), Sobolev (Larsson 58’)

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