Anzhi Makhachkala 2-1 Volga Nizhny Novgorod

A general depiction of how the sides were set up during the first half.

Samuel Eto’o scored on his home début for new club Anzhi Makhachkala, as the big-spending Dagestani side moved up to fourth place in the Russian Premier League. The home side never looked convincing against a defensively dogged and sprint-pressing Volga outfit, who themselves offered nothing in attack. There were occasional flashes of invention from some of the players you’d expect to see them from, but generally, Anzhi’s play was sluggish, their passes sideways, and their spirit conspicuous only by its absence. Nevertheless, the three points are ultimately all that matters, and Anzhi need to make up four of them to overtake CSKA Moscow in the third and final Champions League spot. Volga, on the other hand, are now just one point above the drop zone.

Match preview here.

Volga instantly sat off their illustrious opponents, letting the home side dictate the tempo and monopolize possession. Anzhi attempted to work their way towards goal with floor-based football from the word ‘go’, and some of their initial play – started via Roberto Carlos and brought into the opposition half mostly by Benoit Angbwa – was slick. But, Volga looked potent and quick on the break, especially Sanzhar Tursunov on the left. However, in the third minute, it was Andrey Eshchenko who zoomed down the right, before the ball was switched for the tricky Tursunov to make a one-two with Mate Vatsadze. The Georgian forward had other ideas, though, and instead of returning the pass, teed up Romanian midfielder Mihăiţă Pleşan. Pleşan’s first-time blast deflected off centre-back Rasim Tagirbekov, and went into the net for a 1-0 Volga lead!  Continue reading

FC Krasnodar 2-2 Anzhi Makhachkala

The first half formations.

Big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala have fallen seven points behind table-toppers CSKA Moscow after the Dagestani side could only draw 2-2 with fellow 2011 surprise package FC Krasnodar.

Round 16 of the Russian Premier League’s 2011 season concluded with two of this year’s surprise packages coming together. Like city rivals Kuban, whom Krasnodar faced in the top-flight’s first ever non-Moscow derby last weekend, the home side were flying high in the table, and knew a win here could see them go sixth in a league of 16 teams. Putting that in perspective, Krasnodar were in the Russian third division just three years ago. But Slavoljub Muslin’s squad is definitely first division standard these days, with plenty of experience at the back, flair players like Andrei Gorbanets, and goalscorers like former Real Salt Lake and Kansas City Wizards striker Yura Movsisyan. Continue reading