The 91st Moscow Derby was a thriller, unless you are Red and White.
The Luzhniki Stadium was close to sell out despite the restrictions that are applied to the stadium for safety reasons, with over two thousand police in attendance. Those who were brave enough to cram themselves in witnessed a thrilling second half, as CSKA Moscow came from behind to win 2-1 on another humid evening in Moscow.
Returning hero Vagner Love literally stole the game from Spartak and coach Valery Karpin looked simply gutted at the whistle. A gift from Vasili Berezutsky and Igor Akinfeev gave Spartak the lead, as the keeper attempted to volley rather than catch a deflection of the defender. Sergei Ignashevich hit back with a free kick, before in stoppage time Vagner Love slipped in on goal to finish off the game with a bang.
The last meeting between the two Moscow giants finished a 3-2 victory to the Army Men as a Tomas Necid double helped his team to three points, however he was left on the bench today along with Juventus bound Milos Krasic.
The history of the fiercely contested Moscow Derby goes back to May 1936 when CSKA beat their rivals 3-0 and in the return fixture Spartak took revenge with a 3-1 victory in a match where the wooden goalposts were destroyed almost ending the game prematurely.
In total Spartak have come out on top 39 times compared to the Red and Blue half of the city winning 33 times in 90 fixtures. Spartak still hold the bragging rights of winning the final derby between the two during Soviet times, Aleksandr Mostovoy firing home a free-kick; a game current manager Valery Karpin took part in for Spartak.
Since the Russian League was established in 1992 Spartak still have the better record with 14 wins, 11 draws and 11 defeats. CSKA have become the dominant Moscow side since the turn of the millennium, going unbeaten between 2001 and 2008 in the derby and demolishing the Red and White's 1-5 two years ago; A hat-trick that day for a certain returning Vagner Love.
It was his new team mate Seydou Doumbia, top scorer in Switzerland for the past two seasons with Young Boys, who looked the most lively in the opening minutes on debut. Although it took almost ten minutes in a tense encounter for a shot on goal, Alex firing his freekick along the floor with fellow Brazilian Wellinton almost getting a crucial touch to divert it past Igor Akinfeev.
Czech defender Marek Suchy was then booked bringing down Vagner Love surging into the box. The second challenge on the Brazilian was worthy of a penalty but the referee pulled it back outside the box for the first infringement. With Keisuke Honda and Zoran Tosic over the ball it was center back Sergei Ignashevich who fired his shot straight into the wall. The center back this week denied any rumors of a switch to Spartak on his website.
Spartak were starting to find space between the untraditonal 4-4-2 setup of CSKA but were restricted to long shots which Zotov and Wellinton both blasting high. It was Spartak though shortly after who created the best chance of the first half with 30 minutes on the clock. Winger Bazhenov put in a teasing cross that just came too quickly for the on running Ibson, who could only cushion it towards goal.
CSKA were beginning to grow in confidence as Mamaev hit two disappointing efforts after Vagner Love had laid him off expertly for the second. The "visitors" continued to try push for an opener, Tosic finally tested Pesyakov in the Spartak goal from the left side of the box but it was easily covered. The Ivorian Doumbia then almost dribbled his way through the Spartak defense beating two players but couldn't stay on his feet, as two challenges knocked the striker off his stride in front of goal on half time.
Spartak came close to stealing an early goal in the second half. Bazhenov turned nicely inside from the right wing and fired a low shot along the face of the goal, an outstretched Wellinton almost getting a telling touch. It was Bazhenov again just seconds after who couldn't control his header from a corner, sending it wide of the far post.
The Red and Whites ball retention improved drastically in the second half creating further chances for Ibson, who fired over and Wellinton, who should have done better free at the far post. Nice link up play by the Brazilian duo Alex and Wellinton created space on the left for Alex to drill a shot at Akinfeev ,who saved well but seemed to injure himself in the process, collapsing to the ground after trying to shake it off. However, Akinfeev finally got back up after lengthy treatment and continued.
A quick break from Spartak caught CSKA off guard. Good work from Ananidze down the left found Ibson in acres of space at the edge of the area, but the Brazilian took too long and was closed down by Shennikov.
They finally got their reward after 71 minutes. Shennikov badly misjudged a long cross field pass and the shambles began. Bazhenov's poor cross hit Vasili Berezutsky on the thigh and rather than catching the ball, CSKA keeper Akinfeev swung a wild miss kick allowing the ball to roll into the net. A disaster for the men in white and a gift for (Valery) Karpin.
Spartak almost doubled their lead just minutes after as Captain Martin Stranzl was a whisker away from turning in a delightful ball from substitute Omar Maidana.
CSKA responded well to going a goal down. Japanese playmaker Honda swerving a free kick from distance, which was strangely kept out the goal by Pesyakov with a combination of luck and shoulder. Another Honda delivery dropped for Doumbia put the pace of the ball knocked the striker over yards from goal.
With ten minutes left Sergei Ignashevich leveled with a perfect free kick. Honda stepped back from the ball to everyone's surprise in the ground and the center back curled his shot into the bottom corner. He looked a relieved man, as white shirts crushed him in celebration.
Ignashevich had a fantastic chance to give CSKA a vital three points with just minutes left on the clock after a foul on Vagner Love. His free kick this time from 18 yards was smashed over the bar.
It was in stoppage CSKA stunned Spartak; Vagner Love broke free right down the middle of the pitch and despite Stranzl's best efforts, his shot looped off the defender and into the corner of the net. It was bitter for Spartak, as Vagner Love was immediately replaced to a roaring ovation. Valery Karpin stood in shock as the referee blew for full time and will wonder how they gifted all three points back to their rivals. CSKA climb back up the table into second, nine points behind Zenit St. Petersburg.
Team Line Ups:
Spartak: Pesyakov;Parshivlyuk, Suchy, Stranzl, Koudryashov; Zotov, Ibson;Bazhenov, Alex Ananidze; Wellinton
CSKA: Akinfeev; Shennikov, Ignashevich, Berezutsky, Berezutsky; Honda, Mamaev, Semberas, Tosic, Vagner Love, Doumbia
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