Sensational Zenit smash Spartak in rampant thrashing

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Zenit St. Petersburg 7-1 Spartak Moscow 
Sunday 24 October, Gazprom Arena 

Goals: Zenit - Azmoun 20’, 36’, Claudinho 28’, Mostovoy 45’, 56’, Dzyuba (pen) 80’, Erokhin 88’; Spartak - Promes 53’
Sent off: Spartak - Cufriez 80’
Man of the Match: Sardar Azmoun (Zenit)

Zenit were back to their best as they ripped through Spartak with terrifying precision, roaring into a 4-0 lead by half time. Azmoun struck twice - both times from Rakitsky’s left foot crosses, to take the Ukrainian to seven assists this calendar year - with some Claudinho magic and an Andrey Mostovoy solo strike.

With the suspension to regular centre-back partner Samuel Gigot, the responsibility on Georgi Dzhikia’s shoulders was always going to be huge in a titanic clash like this, and he was called into potentially match-saving action after just 10 minutes, heading Claudinho’s point-blank shot off the line.

The Brazilian forward would not be denied for too long though, as his spectacular curling effort from the edge of the box swung wildly over Aleksandr Maksimenko’s reach into the far corner. By then though, the hosts were already in front.

Yaroslav Rakitsky’s mercurial left foot whipped in a cross towards the far post, and although Ayrton Lucas challenged Sardar Azmoun valiantly, there was only ever one winner as the Iranian striker thumped an unstoppable header for the opener on 20 minutes. The pair combined in almost identical circumstances after Claudinho’s beauty, Azmoun this time attacking the ball with even more venom to plant a third home 10 minutes before the break.

Some semblance of respect was restored shortly after the break by Quincy Promes, who lashed 

A vicious shot through Stanislav Kritsyuk’s fingers, but the joy was very short-lived. Vyacheslav Karavaev’s cross was perfectly judged to cut out the entire Spartak defence and find Mostovoy steaming in at the back post to bag his second of the game.

Matters got worse with 10 minutes left, as Maximiliano Cufriez lunged to recover a loose ball a few yards from his own goal line, and only succeeded in hacking down Azmoun. Artem Dzyuba stepped up to slot a low penalty past Maksimenko, while Cufriez was shown his second yellow card and sent off.

Zenit made the man advantage count in the closing moments as Aleksandr Erokhin was on hand to tap over the line from inches out.

Zenit reclaim top spot on 26 points, while Spartak remain seventh on 17 points. 

Next RPL fixtures: Friday 29 October - Zenit vs Dynamo; Saturday 30 October Spartak vs Rostov 

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