"Zenith" at the end of August-September gained an amazing move. In the previous five RPL matches, he won four wins with one draw and after eight rounds he was in second place in the standings, losing one point to Krasnodar. Then Lokomotiv stood in his way, which at the start of the season is not very impressive. A week ago, the Muscovites lost at home to Orenburg in the championship, and then on the road in a penalty shootout were weaker than Ural in the Cup.
Judging by the statistics of face-to-face meetings, nothing good awaited them in the Northern capital. The last time they beat St. Petersburg was four years ago - under the leadership of Yuri Semin. And on the road, the railwaymen have not prevailed since October 2017, when they unexpectedly defeated their opponent.
The reporting match was notable primarily for the duel between Artem Dzyuba and Wilson Isidor. The Russian spent seven years at Zenit and scored more than 100 goals for the club, but in 2022 they did not renew his contract. The Frenchman, on the other hand, played for Loko for a year and a half, and before the transfer window closed, he left the club's location without permission. As a result, he was rented by the reigning champions, and already in the debut meeting with Rubin, he scored a goal.
This time, both were expected to be in the starting lineups. Isidor formed a duo in attack with the top scorer of the current RPL draw Mateo Cassierra. Also, Sergei Semak, with the recovery of Mario Fernandez, got the opportunity to return to the formation with three central defenders. The guests again opted for the 4-2-3-1 scheme. At the same time, Maxim Glushenkov remained on the bench, and Nair Tiknizyan was located on the left edge of the attack. Anton Miranchuk played under the striker.
The beginning of the match was completely left to the wards of Mikhail Galaktionov. They controlled the ball in the opponent's half and did not allow opponents to attack, including high pressure. However, it was not possible to convert a successful segment at least into blows.
Then the blue-white-blue gradually came to their senses and began to build up pressure themselves. As a pain point in the formations of the guests, they chose the left flank of the defense. It seemed absolutely logical. Firstly, this position was forced to be closed by Alexander Silyanov, who returned from loan, who appeared on the field from the first minutes for only the second time this RPL season. Obviously, he lacked confidence. Secondly, Tiknizyan often did not finish in destruction, leaving free zones.
Zenit players took advantage of this and deliberately created an overload. Here, in addition to Fernandez, both Wendel and Vyacheslav Karavayev were shifted. They tried to break the edge and make a pass into the penalty area, where the powerful Cassierra and Isidor were on duty. In the 22nd minute, the plan worked. After a series of passes, Tiknizyan did not have time to cover Karavayev's cross, and the Colombian headed the ball into the net from close range. Designed to close the striker, Evgeny Morozov did not even jump and allowed him to score the eighth goal in this RPL draw.
Having conceded, Lokomotiv could not recover for a long time, although they seized the initiative, or rather the rivals themselves gave it away. The only thing in front was that Dzyuba was clinging to the ball with all his might, burning with a desire to upset his former team. However, for the time being, he had no support. Sergei Pinyaev on the right had no space and was securely closed by Douglas dos Santos, and Tiknizyan on the left completely disappeared.
Closer to the break, the railway workers finally came to their senses and were obliged to restore the status quo. In many ways, Dzyuba made partners, who imposed a fight on the defenders and almost always won it. It was he who earned the most dangerous free kick for Miranchuk, competently substituting himself for a foul by Claudinho, but the shot turned out to be a little inaccurate.
And the clearest chance was missed by Barinov, who had as many as two attempts to send the ball into an empty net after Karpukas's discount from the front. However, in the first case, he shot at Nuraly Alip, and in the second, Mikhail Kerzhakov was insured on the line by Strahinya Erakovic.
In the second half, the initiative passed to Zenit. St. Petersburg again began to deliver the ball to someone else's penalty area, mainly from the right edge. Cassierra and Isidore clung to him well. And Claudinho, after the Colombian's discount, almost doubled the team's advantage, but did not hit the near corner from outside the penalty area. Lokomotiv, on the other hand, did not succeed, because Dzyuba got tired and stopped clinging to the ball in front.
All the more unexpected was the return goal of the guests after an hour of confrontation. In this situation, it is impossible not to note the effective replacement from Galaktionov. He removed Miranchuk from the field and threw Glushenkov into battle instead of him. And Maxim hit the opponent's goal with his second touch, putting an end to the rapid counterattack. And he competently clung to the ball in someone else's penalty area and made a save, inconspicuous before Tiknizyan.
Semak could not be satisfied with this state of affairs, and he began to perform castling himself. First, Ivan Sergeev appeared on the field, and then Rodrigo with Danil Krugov. The hosts tried to press the opponent to the goal and snatch victory. At a certain point, it seemed that they would succeed. For example, after a blunder by Morozov in his own penalty area, Cassierra made a cross to Sergeev, but he, being literally a couple of meters from the line, did not reach the ball.
But the railroad workers themselves finally got the opportunity to carry out branded attacks at speed and break into free zones, which they were deprived of before the break. Pinyaev became more noticeable, having just started the scoring attack with a wonderful raid on the edge. However, the slowed down Dzyuba did not fit into such a fast game.
To Galaktionov's credit, he reacted to what was happening in a timely manner: he was not afraid to remove the leader along with Pinyaev and released fresh Timur Suleymanov and Ilya Samoshnikov instead. It worked, as the Russians began to put pressure on defenders and cling to the ball. And the appearance of Konstantin Maradishvili in the defensive zone added reliability in the center of the field.
Semak's moves, on the other hand, didn't work. In the end, he took a chance and switched to a formation with two central defenders. However, in the 91st minute, this only led to Tiknizyan's goal, although it is more likely not about the negative effect of the mentor's substitutions, but about a gross mistake out of the blue.
Nothing foreshadowed trouble. Krugovoi introduced the ball from the side on the left edge to Wilmar Barrios, but did it too much. As a result, Glushenkov calmly picked up the ball, entered the penalty area and made a neat throw to Tiknizyan's empty net. After scoring, the midfielder did not hide his emotions - he tore off his T-shirt and ran to celebrate in the stands. It is symbolic that the main hero of the match was a native of St. Petersburg.
The hosts were so shocked by what had happened that they could not even organize a finishing bulk. Mikhail Kerzhakov joined one of the set-pieces, but Gustavo Mantuan made an inaccurate serve.
And shortly before the final whistle, a mass brawl almost broke out on the field. It all started with a foul by Samoshnikov on an opponent in order to disrupt the attack. Tiknizyan and Sergeyev almost came together in hand-to-hand combat. As a result, Nair, as one of the main instigators of the brawl, received a second card. Moreover, he earned the first for removing the T-shirt in the episode with the winning ball. With the final whistle, the teams almost converged wall to wall already at the entrance to the room under the stands, but the judges managed to calm everyone down.
Lokomotiv can only be congratulated. The Red-Greens not only won an incredible victory, but also showed character again. In the current RPL draw, they escaped defeat in the 93rd minute in the confrontation with Krylia Sovetov and in the 98th minute they escaped in a meeting with Krasnodar. Zenit, on the other hand, lost the most important points and demonstrated that this season it will definitely give chances to competitors.