Key points from Matchday 24: Unusual RPL penalty record, Sobolev takes Europe by storm, Baturenko’s long wait ends

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We have rounded up the most intriguing statistics and numbers from Matchday 24 of the Russian Premier Liga.

One - Ivica Olic took to the CSKA hotseat for the first time on matchday 24 as the Armymen came away from Saransk with a narrow 2-1 win. Olic of course is no stranger to CSKA, after enjoying a hugely successful spell in the red and blue as a player, but the Tambov win was a major landmark in his career - it was the first game he had been involved in from the sidelines at club level.

Three - the race for European places has remained incredibly tight all season, and heading into the last six matchdays there are just three points separating the five teams from third to seventh. All teams outside the relegation playoff zone are still mathematically in with a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Conference League by making the top four.

Three - After seeing off the challenge of Khimki at home, Zenit claimed only their third clean sheet at home this season. They still have the tightest defensive record with 21 goals conceded over 24 matchdays, but after keeping visiting sides out just once in their first 11 home fixtures, they now managed it in both of the last two.

Four - An unusual record was set in the Mordovia Arena; not only were all three goals scored from the penalty spot, and although Nikola Vlasic scored one, he also missed another, meaning that for the first time ever in the RPL, four penalties were awarded in a single game.

Five - Akhmat Grozny broke their record win in the RPL by hammering Krasnodar 5-0 at the weekend, in a rare high-scoring performance. In fact, they have only scored more than three goals in an RPL game on two occasions in the last five years. Key to the win was Bernard Berisha, who came off the bench to score twice and boost his season tally to eight. In all other seasons in the RPL combined, the winger has managed nine.

Eight - Aleksandr Sobolev continued his blistering form by scoring another two goals to rescue Spartak in a rollercoaster battle against Rostov. This took his total of goal involvements this calendar year to eight (seven goals, one assist in five games), more than anyone else in the RPL.  

10 - The season’s longest unbeaten run finally came to an end as FC Khimki eventually lost on matchday 24, after 10 matches without defeat. The newly-promoted side’s impressive run began way back in November in Igor Cherevchenko’s third match in charge with a 2-0 win at home to Rubin Kazan, when they were still in the relegation playoff zone. Despite their defeat away to reigning champions Zenit St. Petersburg, they need just two points to mathematically guarantee another top-flight campaign next season.

13 - Lokomotiv roll on ever more impressively, winning their fifth game in a row since the winter break. The Railroaders have built their solid form on a water-tight defence that has conceded just one goal in the recent winning streak. It is unsurprising, therefore, that Lokomotiv have kept the most clean sheets in the league this campaign, now standing at 13 in 24 matches.

21 - Yury Baturenko took over at Rotor Volgograd during the recent international break in what was remarkable his first-ever game in complete charge of a senior side, 21 years after he officially began his coaching career. He learned his trade under the experienced wing of Yury Semin as assistant at Lokomotiv, Anzhi, Mordovia Saransk, Azerbaijan’s FC Qabala, as well as various roles from academy, youth and senior level at Baltika Kaliningrad and Lokomotiv, but waited patiently to go it alone.

61 - Aleksandr Sobolev goalscoring run has not just caught the eye in Russian football, but across Europe too; in fact, he boasts one of the most efficient goals-per-minute ratio of any player in 2021 at just 61 mins per goal. Robert Lewandowski shares the same ratio, with Lionel Messi on 62 minutes per goal and the likes of Erling Haaland, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku lagging way behind. His scoring has been grouped into very few games across the whole season; he has scored two goals in four of his last six RPL games alone.


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