Andrew Flint –
Zenit vs Khimki will not go down as a classic. The Russian champions defeated newly promoted Khimki thanks to a penalty by Artem Dzyuba.
- Khimki frustrate Zenit until the 84th minute
- Dzyuba hit post in first half before scoring from the penalty spot
- Zenit claim their second league and cup double
Russian Cup Final
Zenit vs Khimki – 1-0
Goals: 1-0 Dzyuba (pen, 84’)
A resolute defensive performance from second-tier FC Khimki frustrated a relatively limp Zenit St. Petersburg until the dying moments when Artem Dzyuba struck a late penalty. Sergey Yuran’s FNL runners up hit the post with the very last touch of the game from a six-yard free header by Egor Danilikin to agonizingly miss out on becoming only the second side to lift the Russian Cup from outside the top flight.
Although the Russian champions predictably dominated possession in the opening stages, they rarely found a clear opening in the face of Sergey Yuran’s meticulously prepared side. After about 20 minutes Vyacheslav Karavaev aimed a cross at Artem Dzyuba that the target man didn’t quite expect to reach him. The ball bounced off his midriff and caught Khimki keeper Ilya Lanratov out as it bounced off the post.
Malcolm was full of running for Zenit without carving out a major opening, while Branislav Ivanovic wasted two possessions with aimless diagonal balls to nobody. It would be an exaggeration to say the Russian Premier Liga side were panicking, but frustrated glances characterised Dzyuba and Azmoun – who had scored 34 top-flight goals combined – against the five-man defence. Vladimir Dyadyun even came within
The second half began much more brightly for Zenit as Artem Dzyuba’s header from Douglas Santos’ corner was scrambled clear. Rakitskiy poked the loose ball goalward and was denied again by Lanratov. Still within the first five minutes of the second period, Dzyuba turned inside his marker, steadied himself from eight yards out, but again couldn’t find a way past Khimki’s increasingly busy keeper. By now the second-tier side were defending with six men in their defensive line as clearances became more and more hurried.
With quarter of an hour to go though and the deadlock had still not been broken. Semak threw on Sebastian Driussi and switched to a more adventurous 4-2-4 formation to leave four forwards on the pitch. Moments later Malcom took on his marker on the outside and was brought down near the byline. Vladimir Moskalev pointed to the spot, and Dzyuba stepped up to send Lanratov the wrong way.
There was late drama when substitute Mohamed Konate headed back across goal for Egor Danilikin to have a free header from six yards. With the last touch of the match, his effort slammed against the post.
Zenit vs Khimki – Man of the Match
Malcom – Zenit St. Petersburg struggled to make significant inroads behind the stubborn FC Khimki defence, but their main source of danger was comfortably the Brazilian winger. His running caused problems for Khimki in the second half in particular, and it was his run the earned the decisive spot kick.
Zenit vs Khimki – Talking Point
FC Khimki have had an uncertain path back to the top tier of Russian football, but on this evidence Sergey Yuran has prepared his squad to cope with high-pressure situations. Although they finished second in the FNL, their promotion was only confirmed earlier this week. The most potent attack in Russia were kept largely quiet for most of the game by an inventive 5-1-3-1 setup, and had to settle for a late penalty to seal the result.
Zenit vs Khimki – Match Stats
- Zenit had 19 shots on goal – seven on target – while Khimki managed just six, with one on target
- Zenit only just shaded possession with 55% to Khimki’s 45%
- Both sides hit the post once
Zenit vs Khimki – Line-ups
Kerzhakov, Karavaev (Smolnikov 90+2’), Rakitskiy, Ivanovic, Douglas Santos (Driussi 76’), Kuzyaev, Barrios, Ozdoev (Zhirkov 76’), Malcolm (Shatov 89’), Azmoun (Sutormin 89’), Dzyuba
Coach: Sergey Semak
Lantratov, Tikhiy, Gapon, Danilikin, Smirnov (Kukharchuk 65’), Troshechkin, Martusevich, Koryan (Aliev 81’), Polyarus (Konate 88’), Bozhenov, Dyadyun (Barkov 65’)
Coach: Sergey Yuran
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.