On the eve of the 20th round of the RPL, CSKA's winless streak in the face-to-face confrontation with Zenit was eight matches. And there were very few prerequisites for the fact that this time it would be possible to interrupt it. In the last five meetings, Vladimir Fedotov's charges took the upper hand only twice, and in the first round after the resumption of the championship, Sochi were hard hit. The coach was pleased only with the absence of injured and disqualified, which could not be said about the leaders of the championship. Sergei Semak could not count not only on Ivan Sergeyev, but also on Wilmar Barrios, who suffered a shoulder injury.
Perhaps the absence of the main breakwater affected Zenit's performance in the first half. He started well and had more possession at the start, but the initiative quickly passed to CSKA. The hosts pinned the visitors to the penalty area and began to besiege it. The soloist was Jesus Medina, who in the absence of Jorge Carrascal became one of the leaders of the red and blue attack. The Colombian was again left on the bench, and the trio in attack, along with the Paraguayan, was formed by Fedor Chalov and Anton Zabolotny.
However, st. Petersburg managed to knock down the attacking impulse of the Muscovites, and at the end of the hour of the meeting, Fedotov had to make an emergency rebuild. For the first time since September, Igor Diveev, who started the field, left the field due to injury. The defender of the Russian national team suddenly grabbed his side and wriggled in pain, after which he asked for a replacement. Kirill Nababkin appeared instead and a couple of minutes later Zenit almost scored. A brilliant three-stroke with the participation of Malcom and Daler Kuzyaev could be completed by Mateo Cassierra - Igor Akinfeev helped out.
CSKA found something to answer. Towards the end of the half, a bright duel between Fyodor Chalov and Rodrigao began on the field. And it was provoked by the Brazilian, who rudely stepped on the foot of the Russian. And he took revenge. The forward single-handedly broke through the massive defense of Zenit, simultaneously throwing the ball between the legs of the ex-football player of Sochi. However, he shot imperfectly and left Mikhail Kerzhakov a chance to save his team, which he took advantage of. And already in the compensated time, Something similar was performed by Zabolotny, but did not create problems for the goalkeeper at all.
Semak could not be satisfied with the actions of his players in the first half and already at halftime not only made the first substitution, but also transferred the team to another scheme. Instead of Vyacheslav Karavaev, Dmitry Chistyakov was thrown into the fray, as a result of which Zenit switched to a formation with three central defenders. And this allowed to minimize the number of dangerous approaches of CSKA. The match had not been replete with bright episodes before, and now it has completely calmed down. For the first third of the half, you can only remember Malcom's free-kick. But as much as Claudigno did not charge his compatriot for success, he could not help him hit the target.
Chalov broke the calm. CSKA's unremarkable, slow attack ended with the striker's accurate "shot" from outside the box. He again shot not in the best way, but Douglas Santos, who appeared in the way of the ball, did a disservice to Kerzhakov. Hitting the Brazilian's shoulder disoriented the goalkeeper and prevented him from reacting.
With 18 minutes to go until the end of regulation time, the game finally perked up. Fedotov hurried to strengthen the defensive zone and released Maxim Mukhin instead of Medina, and Semak, on the contrary, raised his joker in the person of Gustavo Mantuan. It was he who took Akinfeev by surprise with a magnificent long-range shot in the first round and brought the blue-white-blue three points. But this time I don't remember anything bright. Others took the initiative. First, Malcom tested the vigilance of opponents from outside the box, and after drawing a corner, Cassierra jumped out above all. Mateo surpassed Moises in horse wrestling, but landed in the frame.
The savior of Zenit could be Alexei Sutormin, who came off the bench. And although no one prevented him from hitting from the air, he could not direct the ball to the target. And at the same time save his team from the first defeat in the confrontation with CSKA since November 2018. Then the charges of Viktor Goncharenko twice struck the opponent's goal (2: 0), and Chalov not only scored himself, but also assisted Arnor Sigurdsson.
CSKA won the second victory after the resumption of the championship and equaled in the standings with the fourth-placed Dynamo (both have 35 points each). Zenit remained at the head of the championship, but could not increase the gap from Rostov. St. Petersburg have 48 points and are seven points ahead of their nearest competitors.