Matchday 16 Review: Akhmat streak, Zenit silence CSKA again, Lantratov Wall

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We have looked back at the Matchday 16 fixtures from the Russian Premier Liga to bring you the best stats and figures.

0 - Nizhny Novgorod’s confidence was sinking fast before this weekend after five consecutive defeats in the RPL had left them hovering nervously just outside the relegation zone, so a goalless draw was more than just a point for them. Holding out against an attacking Krylia Sovetov side was no mean feat either, although it does slightly paper over the cracks somewhat; Nizhny completed an unwanted achievement of failing to register a single shot on target not only this matchday, but in both games against Krylia this season. This has only happened twice in the last decade.

1 - Viktor Claesson has finally broken his league duck for this season with his first goal of the campaign at the 16th time of asking. His contribution proved to be crucial in what was arguably the most thrilling game of the weekend that saw the lead change hands more than once in a six-goal rollercoaster.

2 - Arsenal Tula’s shock win over Lokomotiv was surprisingly comfortable in the end, thanks largely to the contributions of Kings Kangwa. The Zambian midfielder carved out two goals for his teammates to become only the fourth Arsenal player to provide two assists in a single match.

3 - Akhmat have suddenly found a powerful run of form after they saw off the challenge of Rostov at the weekend. The Grozny side have now won three RPL matches in a row, for the first time in over a year. The last time they won four on the trot came back in 2017 under Rashid Rakhimov.

3 - Rubin know a thing or two about dramatic turnarounds, but even they were outdone this weekend as Dynamo hit back in the closing stages in Kazan after the hosts had themselves fought back from falling 1-0 down to lead 2-1. The comeback was sparked by a well-taken goal from Soltmurad Bakaev, making it the winger’s third direct goal contribution (2 goals, 1 assist) in his last three RPL matches - the same total as his previous 28 league games.

4 - Khimki’s breathtaking 3-3 draw with Krasnodar was laced with drama almost from the word go, with Grzegorz Krychowiak’s missed penalty turning out to be a critical moment. Ilya Lantratov’s save helped salvage a point for the relegation-threatened side, and was his fourth penalty save out of 11 faced since arriving in the RPL last summer. That is more spot-kicks kept out than any other keeper over the same period. It also happened to be Krasnodar’s fifth missed penalty of the campaign, already the joint-highest tally in over a decade.

5 - St. Petersburg is comprehensively winning the battle of the Russian capitals of late after Zenit cruised to a 2-0 win against CSKA at the weekend. Not only did the result stretch their unbeaten run against Moscow sides to 11 matches (won 8, drawn 3), but it was their fifth win against CSKA in a row, their longest such run against the Armymen.

6 - Even though Aleksandr Sobolev spared some blushes for Spartak Moscow in Ufa with his very late penalty, he couldn’t cover up yet another winless league game. In fact, the 1-1 draw makes it six consecutive matches without a win for Spartak. Only once before in their RPL history have they failed to win for a longer run of league games, when they went seven winless games in 2004.

11 - Sebastian Szymanski is staking a strong claim to being player of the season so far with a quite brilliant campaign for Dynamo, and it came as no surprise that he was central to almost everything incisive about his side’s attacks. His delivery found the commanding head of Fabian Balbuena for the equaliser to take him top of the RPL assists charts on six, before his winner made 11 goal contributions in 15 matches this season; more than any teammate, and more than his own total across his first two seasons in Russia.

12 - Sochi found life tough away in Ekaterinburg as they were held to a 1-1 draw, conceding first to by far the most goal-shy outfit in the league; it was only Ural’s seventh goal in 16 matches. Although Sochi remain in a very healthy third place in the league, they have now conceded at least once in 12 consecutive RPL matches, the longest such run in the league currently.

90 - Zenit’s 2-0 win away to CSKA represented another landmark for the Blue-White-Sky Blues, or for their manager Sergey Semak to be precise. It was the former midfielder’s 150th match in charge of the club, and also his 90th win in charge.

Photo: Vyacheslav Evdokimov / Zenit St. Petersburg


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