Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar March 3, 2018 21:38



March 2018
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By Satish Sekar at Zenit St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium © Satish Sekar (March 3rd 2018)



Zenit St Petersburg’s coach, Roberto Mancini, branded referee Vladimir Seldiakov a “disaster,” after the official reduced Zenit to nine men in added time. With 5 minutes of added time on the clock Alexander Erokhin received his second yellow card for a foul on Saeid Ezatolahi.

Moments later Zenit’s captain, Domenico Criscito, saw red after leaving his foot in ain a challenge – he had picked up a silly yellow card for dissent earlier. A soft foul on substitute Darko Bodul resulted in Criscito giving Seldiakov a mouthful. It was a harsh decision, but Criscito is experienced enough to know that it wasn’t worth getting booked for. It cost him dear and his reaction may as well. He sarcastically applauded the referee as he ran off the field.


There was still time for substitute Anton Zabolotny to chase a seemingly lost cause and keep the ball in play, only to be felled by a lunge by Nikolai Zaitsev, who was left writhing in pain after his challenge.

Seldiakov waited patiently yellow card drawn, only for Zaitsev to be taken off the pitch. Seldiakov showed him a second yellow – deservedly – but did not show him the red card that warranted. Zaitsev could not continue anyway but that was hardly the point.


With all the controversy over VAR recently, here was a match that surely would have benefited from it. Mancini was far from impressed with the refereeing, also complaining that he broke up the game.


But Amkar Perm came to St Petersburg with a plan, their usual one to disrupt play as much as possible and keep what they started with – a goalless draw. Chances were kept to a premium as Zenit, currently in third place in the league were kept at bay. They only created one chance worthy of the name in a poor first half. Artur Nigmatullin should have been far busier.

He only had two saves to make. Criscito’s pass found Sebastián Driussi in the area on the left. He turned Zaitsev inside out and shot fiercely. Nigmatullin parried at his near post – it was the best chance created as Amkar Perm disrupted Zenit’s game by fair means or foul.

Shortly afterwards Zaitsev was deservedly booked for fouling Driussi, as was Mikhail Gachenkov for a terrible challenge on Leandro Paredes. With ten minutes remaining Criscito’s cross from the left was headed into Alexander Kokorin’s path by Daler Kuziaev and the forward’s shot was denied at the expense of a corner.


Five minutes into the second half Amkar ventured forward Gachenkov’s shot from just outside the area needed a smart save to his left by Andrey Lunev at the expense of a corner. Amkar never really threatened again. But Zenit for all their possession failed to carve Amkar open. Substitute Zabolotny went very close in a goalmouth scramble and Nigmatullin made a right hash of a cross that resulted in Petar Zanev conceding a corner sloppily.

With just over five minutes of regulation time remaining substitute Emiliano Rigoni curled a free-kick in from the right. Wing. Nigmatullin bravely went for it and cleared it as he was clattered by Zabolotny. A delay that annoyed Zenit’s supporters ended with a flare being thrown near the goal. That gave Nigmatullin the excuse he needed to delay further, as Zenit’s tempers frayed.


“We were two players up, but probably didn’t use this opportunity, but apart from that it was just part of the game,” Amkar Perm’s coach, Vadim Evseev, said after the match. Fourth placed Spartak Moscow play Premier League leaders Lokomotiv Moscow tomorrow. If Spartak win, Zenit will drop out of the Champions League places.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar March 3, 2018 21:38