Saturday 20 September 2014
Russian Premier League
FK Rostov 0-5 Zenit St. Petersburg
A hapless defence enabled Zenit to ease to a comprehensive thrashing, with two of the goals coming from Rostov players at the wrong end and the other three from the feet of Salomón Rondón.
The Venezuelan forward needed to get back to scoring ways after a relative drought of five games (three for Zenit, two for the national side) without a goal and was always likely to find opportunities against opponents who have already been victims of 7-3 and 6-0 hidings.
The first goal came after 11 minutes as Danny’s corner was glanced on by Javi García and Rondón managed to gain some space to slide home the ball past Croatian World Cup goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.
The second was a farce that could be featured on any Own Goals and Gaffes video (you can watch it here in isolation, should you so wish). Danny powered forward up the inside-left from the halfway line up to the edge of the area, where he passed centrally to Oleg Shatov and, with nobody tracking his run, received a rapidly dispatched through-ball to put him one-on-one with Pletikosa. The Croatian managed to get something on the Portuguese’s shot which slowed down the ball’s pace as it headed goalwards yet, despite having time on his side to make a clearance, South African defender Siyanda Xulu instead sliced the ball into the back of his own net. The onrushing Rondón could not help but emit a cheeky smile as with 37 minutes gone, it was 2-0 to the visitors and a familiar story was emerging for both the hosts and the visitors.
Just before the hour mark, Rondón’s second and Zenit’s third came, following good work by Viktor Fayzulin. Indeed, the Russian international ran up the left, passed a short ball to Domenico Criscito whose clever back-flick played him into space to put in a good ball from near the byline. Fayzulin’s cross was poorly dealt with by two defenders whose poor communication led to the ball falling kindly to Rondón who, from a central position 11 yards out, confidently side-footed the ball home with his left peg.
Five minutes later, Zenit’s creative captain Danny was substituted off, though it is unknown whether the injury he allegedly picked up is anything serious. Nevertheless, with Andrey Arshavin on in his place, the league-leaders continued their rout and benefited from another comical, if unfortunate, own goal after 71 minutes. This time Hulk, on the right near the corner flag, swung in a free-kick with his left foot that bounced in the centre before being headed back by Ezequiel Garay straight towards the head of defender Vitaliy Djakov. In the nano-seconds that he had to react to this incoming ball, he twisted his forehead slightly to his right, thus glancing the ball goalwards past the unsuspecting Pletikosa.
The final goal that completed Rondón’s hat-trick and the 5-0 pounding came just two minutes later, once again showcasing some swift attacking, amateurish tracking and clinical finishing. Shatov ran onto a cutting through-ball on the right, waltzing into the area before cutting back the ball into the area – leaving an outstretched defender stranded en-route – where the unmarked Venezuelan had time to compose himself and then hit a strong right-foot strike into the corner from 10 yards out.
Overall, Zenit made light work of very weak opposition, maintaining their 6-point lead at the top of the table and extending their winning streak to eight wins in eight matches which, if European games are included, comes to a phenomenal 12 consecutive wins. While it is starting to seem difficult to see where Zenit could possibly slip up, one may wish to restrain oneself with the superlatives until they are immersed in their Champions League games and then we will see what, if any, effect this has on their domestic campaign.