31.10.2021

Artem Dzyuba in goals: Records broken, poker against Tambov, father’s promise delivered

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After he broke Oleg Veretennikov’s Russian championships scoring record this weekend, we have looked back at Artem Dzyuba’s record-breaking career through his most significant goal-scoring achievements.

1st RPL goal - All great tales have humble beginnings, and Artem Dzyuba’s Russian Premier Liga journey took place in the humble surroundings of Tom Tomsk’s Stadion Trud. Spartak had started the campaign unbeaten, but were trailing at half time when an 18-year-old Dzyuba was brought off the bench. Time was running out when Dmitry Torbinsky swung in a dangerous cross from the left for Dzyuba to attack ferociously. Although his initial header was blocked down low by Tom keeper Vassily Khomutovsky, the teenager bundled the rebound over the line. 

1st season with 10 goals - Tom Tomsk would play a major part in the early development of Dzyuba’s career after he spent two loan spells there from Spartak. After opening his account in 2007, the striker struggled to really make a first-team spot his own; the following campaign he earned fewer playing minutes and managed a solitary goal, so was sent out on loan to gain experience for the second half of 2009, helping Tom to a comfortable mid-table finish with three goals. 

The next season could arguably be described as his first real breakthrough season as he returned to Tomsk for most of the season this time. Before the campaign began, he made a promise to his father that he would score 10 goals - Dzyuba kept his word - precisely - as his adopted side bettered their finish by ending eighth.

1st career hat-trick - His sparkling form earned him a regular starting spot for Spartak for the transitional 2011/2012 season, and he returned a respectable tally of 11 goals. The following season struggled to find consistency with just four strikes though, so was sent out on loan again in 2013/14, this time to Rostov - and what an epic season it turned out to be.

Dzyuba exploded into his Rostov career with an incredible six goals in his first three appearances - including his first ever senior career hat-trick, against Tom Tomsk of all sides. His debut saw Rostov 1-0 down in the 89th minute, before his penalty drew them level and an added time header clinched the turnaround. Against Tom he bagged all three goals; a classic header, a tidy right-footed rebound and a late penalty (his third in three games).

Rostov famously went on to win the Russian Cup by the end of the campaign, leaving Dzyuba with 17 RPL goals out of the team’s 40, and two in three in the Cup run. 

Electric start under Yakin - Another successful loan, another successful return to Spartak; this time, it was Swiss manager Murat Yakin he had to impress. While the Otkritie Arena received its finishing touches, Spartak had a potentially challenging start to the 2014/15 season, with their first six games away from home; step forward Dzyuba. He scored twice in a 4-0 opening day win over Rubin, won the derby against Dynamo on matchday two with both Spartak strikes in a 2-1 win, then repeated the feat away to Ufa in his fourth appearance of the season.

It was also a significant campaign on the international stage, as not only did Dzyuba score his first goal for his country, but he plundered eight goals in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Four goals against Spartak in his first four Zenit games - In the summer of 2015, Dzyuba moved to traditional Spartak rivals Zenit St. Petersburg, and didn’t take long to open his account for his new side in his second appearance away to Ural, but all eyes were on his return to face the club he had grown up with on matchday 10. Sure enough, with Zenit 2-1 down with four minutes to go, it had to be Dzyuba to poke home a dramatic equaliser.

In the return game in St. Petersburg he scored again with the game still in the balance at 2-2, while he once again put Zenit in front in his third game for the Blue-White-Sky Blues against his old club the following season. A brilliant striker’s finish - controlling an awkward cross with his back to goal, turning the defender and turning it home - made it four in four Zenit games against Spartak, but this time he finally ended on the losing side.

100th career goal - It was only a matter of time before Dzyuba brought up the landmark of 100 career goals. He had already scored 10 league goals after 22 matchdays of his debut Zenit season to take his tally up to 68 RPL goals. Added to 10 goals in the Russian Cup, 13 in UEFA Cup, Europa League and Champions League fixtures and eight goals for the Russian national team, Dzyuba entered the match against Amkar Perm with 99 senior goals to his name.

Oleg Shatov raced through to meet a sensational defence-splitting pass, only to see his chipped effort over Aleksandr Selikhov meet the crossbar. With predatory penalty box instinct, Dzyuba was there in a flash to head the rebound over the line to bring up his ton.

Six Arsenal goals that saved his World Cup dream - After being Russia’s first-choice centre forward for the best part of two years up to Euro 2016, Dzyuba had lost his place in the national team, and was in danger of losing a place in the squad for the home World Cup in 2018. He was struggling to find the net for Zenit too, only scoring his first of the season in November, so a loan to Arsenal Tula was arranged after the winter break. 

It turned out to be just the tonic he had needed, as he played every minute of the 10 matches left in the season, scoring six goals for Arsenal to fire them to what was their highest ever finish at that point of seventh. A goal and an assist against parent club Zenit stood out as he forced his way into Stanislav Cherchesov’s plans, and an epic summer spearheading the charge to the quarter-finals.

100 RPL goal - The euphoria of the World Cup gave way to domestic football once again, and back in form Dzyuba had no need of a loan spell this time. The season before his arrival Zenit has won the RPL, but had endured their longest title drought since 2006 in the three seasons after he joined. With a revitalised Dzyuba leading the line they were crowned champions after leading the way from the very first matchday, and the now 30-year-old broke another landmark with his 100th RPL goal with his last strike of the campaign.

Dynamo Moscow had held Zenit to a goalless draw for almost an hour when Yuri Zhirkov swun over an ideal cross. Still with two markers and the keeper to beat, Dzyuba expertly leapt, twisted and thumped a header across goal into the far corner to give the champions elect the lead.

Four-star ‘poker’ to become all-time Russian Premier Liga scorer - In what is becoming one of the league’s iconic strike partnerships, Sardar Azmoun and Artem Dzyuba began forming a deadly duo since the Iranian joined the club in 2019. Since Azmoun joined, the pair have combined for 99 RPL goals between them in less than three years, competing for the season top scorer crown since.

At the end of the 2020/21 season, heading into the final game away to already relegated Tambov, Azmoun led the way on 19 to Dzyuba’s 16, having both ended the previous season level on 17 goals. With Azmoun left out of the matchday squad, Dzyuba promptly scored a ‘poker’ - four goals in a single match - to not only win the season goalscoring race and mark his most productive league campaign, but to pass Aleksandr Kerzhakov’s mark as the top scorer of the Russian Premier Liga era (since 2002).

144th RPL goal to become all-time top Russian championships scorer - As inevitable as the passage of time was whether Dzyuba would beat Oleg Veretennikov’s record as the all-time top scorer in Russian championships; the only question was when. On matchday 13, fresh from blasting to a 7-1 win against Spartak Moscow, Zenit welcomed their nearest challengers Dynamo to the Gazprom Arena.

Predictably, it was a tight affair, and when Daniil Fomin slotted a cool penalty to equalise 10 minutes after half time, a real challenge was on to hold off the visitors. Dzyuba came off the bench on 66 minutes, and within three minutes Zenit were 3-1 up. His personal moment of glory came from a Yaroslav Rakitsky corner which Azmoun powered towards goal; Anton Shunin tipped the ball up, leaving Dzyuba arguably the easiest of his 144 RPL goals to nod in from inches out.

What next? - There aren’t many milestones left for Artem Dzyuba to conquer, but you can bet he won’t give up yet. Two key ones leave Aleksandr Kerzhakov in his way; one for Russia, and one for Zenit. As things stand, Dzyuba is level with the current Nizhny Novgorod head coach on 30 goals for the national team, a task that is eminently possible. The second is a tall order, even for a goal machine of Dzyuba’s calibre. Dzyuba is currently second in Zenit history with 102 goals in all competitions, with Kerzhakov way out in front on 163. 

Photos: Saturn Moscow Region; FC Rostov; Arsenal Tula; Konstantin Rybin / RPL; Anna Meyer / Zenit St. Petersburg; Vyacheslav Evdokinov / Zenit St. Petersburg


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