Matchday 26 Review: Bicfalvi ends home drought, Ejuke’s derby joy, Explosive Khimki

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We have looked back to bring you our favourite statistics and figures from the Russian Premier Liga Matchday 26 fixtures.

1 - Two players struck the first goals for their teams this weekend. First up, Kirill Kravtsov pulled one back for Nizhny Novgorod away to Lokomotiv Moscow, sparking a frantic end to the game that the visitors controlled, but couldn’t capitalize fully on. It wasn’t just the young on-loan midfielder’s first Nizhny Novgorod goal, but his first ever senior goal too. The next day, Aleksandr Lomovitsky clinched a vital 1-0 win for Rubin with his first goal since joining in the winter from Spartak Moscow.

4 - The most hotly-anticipated clash of the weekend was the Moscow derby between CSKA and Dynamo on Sunday night, and it proved as tight as most people expected. The winner from Chidera Ejuke was of blistering quality that the game deserved, and marked the Nigerian’s fourth goal in four appearances against the Blue-White neighbours.

4+4 - There is no question that Khimki are absolutely flying of late under Sergey Yuran’s midas touch; from rock bottom of the league, they have rocketed up to 13th in the space of four matchdays with a healthy six-point cushion to the automatic drop zone. A large part of this is down to their explosive home form, which has seen them score four goals in consecutive home games for the first time ever in their history after they took Krylia Sovetov apart 4-1. In fact, they’d only managed a four-goal top-flight game once in their entire history before April, in their first ever campaign at the highest level 15 years ago.

7 - Heading into the final day and fixture of Matchday 26 - Krasnodar vs leaders Zenit St. Petersburg - all seven home sides had won. This was the first time this had happened since matchday 19 of the 2017/18 season, with only 13 matchdays seeing seven home wins in RPL history - but never had all eight home sides finished victorious. Given the electric rollercoaster history of recent clashes between Krasnodar and Zenit, could history be made?... For record fans, sadly not. Although Krasnodar hit back after falling 2-0 behind, they were finished off by a rapid counter-attack goal in the final minutes.

8 - In recent weeks Lokomotiv goalscoring has been mostly dominated by the record-equalling Wilson Isidor, who scored in all of his first six matches in Russian football, but he passed over the reins this weekend to Rifat Zhemaletdinov. The Russian international forward bagged both goals in the 2-1 win over Nizhny Novgorod, and in doing so took his already most productive RPL goalscoring campaign to eight goals. In doing so, he has doubled his RPL tally for the Railroaders this season.

29 - It isn’t unusual for teams to find more form and points at home than on the road of course, but there limits to how much a leaky away form can be sustained while surviving in the top flight. Arsenal Tula have struggled more than most sides away from home, and this weekend was not different sadly as they were edged out by Rubin Kazan 1-0. With more defeats this season than any other side, the one positive for the Tula side is that they only have one remaining away fixture to go. There is one very obvious factor behind this run - no clean sheets in their last 29 away league games, a run stretching back almost two years to July 2020.

88 - Rostov’s extraordinary season continued apace with a dramatic added-time 3-2 win over Spartak at the weekend, marking their fourth straight win to lift them even further from the relegation battle they were mired in not that long ago. It is their joint-longest winning streak in almost six years, but perhaps the most unusual part is the sheer volume of goals they encounter at both ends; with 44 goals scored and conceded, they are both the second-highest scorers and second-worst defence, while no other side has seen more combined goals than Rostov’s 88.

208 - Eric Bicfalvi’s status as a modern legend for Ural Ekaterinburg is all-but secure already, given his tendency to come up with the goods in front of goal when it matters. It hasn’t been a smooth ride this campaign for the club admittedly, although the brightest moments have involved the Romanian forward; of Ural’s five league wins, Bicfalvi has scored in four of them. His sensational overhead opener against Ufa was crucial in setting them on their way to beating relegation rivals, but arrived 208 days since his last goal at the Ekaterinburg Arena. This is his longest dry spell at home in almost two years.

Photo: Olga Stepinsh / FC Khimki


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