Zabolotny double fires Armymen into third

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CSKA Moscow 2-0 Arsenal Tula
Saturday 11 December, VEB Arena

Goals: CSKA - Zabolotny 33’, (pen) 76’
Man of the Match: Anton Zabolotny (CSKA)

How CSKA went into the break only 1-0 up remains a small mystery, but in the perishingly cold Moscow winter they warmed their fans’ with a delightfully confident flicked finish from Anton Zabolotny. The target man applied a superb, delicate volley in mid-air with the outside of his boot to turn Ilzat Akhmetov‘s cross past Anton Kochenkov.

Although the game had been relatively tight early on, the closing quarter of an hour saw a number of glaring opportunities - and not only for CSKA. Zuriko Davitashvili hobbled off after suffering an injury while attempting to find a way past Igor Akinfeev, but the legendary veteran keeper was alert with a point-blank save with his feet to maintain the advantage.

At the other end, a brief mazy dribble from Mario Fernandes broke through a small crowd of defenders to tee up Akhmetov, but his effort skewed wide.

Evgeny Markov threatened to pull the visitors level a few minutes after the break after he held off Igor Diveev’s challenge but again the RPL’s highest-rated keeper for clean sheets was alert to keep out the powerful near-post shot. 

Although Arsenal battled bravely, the game was all but settled with quarter of an hour to go, and once again it was all down to Zabolotny. The striker was preparing to let fly when Uros Radakovic tripped him up just inside the area, leaving Zabolotny to step up and calmly roll the ball into the bottom right corner.

CSKA remain go third on 30 points, while Arsenal stay 11th on 19 points.

Next RPl fixtures: Saturday/Sunday 26/27 February 2022 - Sochi vs Arsenal; Spartak vs CSKA

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