Zenit crowned champions after breathless six-goal thriller in Krasnodar

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FC Krasnodar 2-4 Zenit St. Petersburg
Sunday 5 July, Krasnodar

Goals: Krasnodar - Utkin (29’, 50’); Zenit - Azmoun (5’, 52’), Dzyuba (pen 45+1), Sutormin (71’)

Man of the Match: Sardar Azmoun

Zenit St. Petersburg retained their Russian Premier Liga crown after another epic clash against FC Krasnodar that saw Danil Utkin and Sardar Azmoun hit doubles for their respective sides. RPL top goalscorer Artem Dzyuba added a penalty and Aleksey Sutormin sealed the emphatic win, while Wanderson’s penalty was saved by Andrey Lunev.

With the title on the line, Sardar Azmoun wasted no time in putting Zenit firmly in control. Matvey Safonov took a quick goal kick to Yury Gazinskiy, but the experienced midfielder’s touch was poor and allowed Azmoun to sneak in and poke home the opener after just five minutes.

Krasnodar hit back just before half an hour through Danil Utkin, who finished clinically from Sergey Petrov’s cutback. Zenit’s goal was put under intense pressure as Andrey Lunev saved from Marcus Berg before watching the Swede’s thumping header thumped inches wide.

Shortly before half time Wanderson had a chance to give Krasnodar the lead from the spot when Marcus Berg was brought down by Lunev. However, the Zenit keeper pulled off a stunning double save from the Brazilian to maintain parity.

In a flash, the tables were turned in first-half added time as Artem Dzyuba’s shot caught Tonny Vilhenna’s elbow, and Sergey Karasev pointed to the spot. Dzyuba himself stepped up to calmly stroke home his 16th goal of the season.

Both teams had barely caught their breath after the restart when Utkin unleashed a sensational left-footed rocket from all of 30 yards into the top corner. Once again, however, the tide turned in the blink of an eye.

Within seconds of the kickoff a scramble in Safonov’s area fell to Azmoun in the six-yard box, and the Iranian made no mistake to regain the lead. With 20 minutes remaining Aleksandr Sutormin gathered Dzyuba’s flick-on before steering a precise finish into the bottom corner.

FC Krasnodar travel to take on Rubin Kazan away next on Thursday 9 July, while Zenit St. Petersburg are at home to FC Sochi on Wednesday 8 July.

FC Krasnodar: Safonov, Petrov, Martynovich, Kaio, Ramirez (Sergeev 76’), Gazinskiy, Utkin (Fernandes 76’), Olsson (Cabella 76’), Vilhenna (Suleymanov 69’), Wanderson, Berg (Onugkha 82’)

Zenit St. Petersburg: Lunev, Karavaev, Ivanovic, Rakitskiy, Douglas Santos, Malcolm (Rigoni 82’), Ozdoev (Zhirkov 46’), Barrios, Kuzyaev (Sutormin 66’), Azmoun (Driussi 66’), Dzyuba (Erokhin 88’)

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