For Guillermo Abascal, the matchday 14 match against Lokomotiv could well be his last at the helm of Spartak. The chair under him swayed a few weeks ago, and after the sensational defeat from Fakel, even the club's management had to answer questions about a possible resignation. And although they assured that they still believe in the Spanish specialist and are not going to stop working with him, the names of his possible successors have already been seriously discussed in the press. Among them were three legends of the red and white - Stanislav Cherchesov, Valery Karpin and Igor Shalimov. And in the event of a fiasco in the Moscow derby, rumors about their return to the camp of ten-time champions could take real shape.

And there was a feeling that it would not be easy to avoid failure. Of the last six meetings in all competitions, Spartak lost four and conceded a total of 14 times, and in the confrontation with Lokomotiv they could not count on two central defenders at once. Georgi Dzhikiya was injured in training, and Srdjan Babic, who ousted him from the first team, could not take to the field due to suspension. Thus, the defensive pair was Alexis Duarte and Nikita Chernov, with whom they played only three full matches in a bundle.

The only good thing was the return to action after the injury of Quincy Promes and Roman Zobnin, who remained on the bench. He was also accompanied there by Alexander Sobolev and Theo Bongonda. As a result, Anton Zinkovsky and Jesus Medina formed a trio in attack with the Dutch, and Mikhail Ignatov, Danil Prutsev and Ruslan Litvinov were located a little lower. And such a tilt to attack, taking into account the absence of Dzhikiya and Babich, raised serious questions.

In turn, Mikhail Galaktionov also surprised a little and left on the bench Sergey Pinyaev, who has not been showing himself in the best way lately, relying on the attacking duo in the person of Artem Dzyuba and Maxim Glushenkov. At the same time, Ilya Samoshnikov came out at the start, together with Maxim Nenakhov, who was called upon to form a double right flank of the defense.

Apparently, such a move by the head coach of the Railwaymen was due to the intention to contain Promes. He regularly shifted to the left wing, either creating a pair with Zinkovsky, or replacing his teammate who was leaving for the center. And largely thanks to this, Spartak looked a little better in the opening minutes. The visitors had more possession of the ball, combined well and even scored several long-range shots, even if none of them reached the target. Lokomotiv, as expected, acted as the second number, relying on long balls to Dzyuba. But most of them, if they achieved the addressee, did not lead to anything serious.

In this vein, the game went on until the end of the half. Spartak tried to stretch Lokomotiv's defense, but could not break into the penalty area. And his attacks ended either with "shots" from outside it, or with crosses from the eyebrows, which did not reach Promes and Ignatov. The hosts were practically not mistaken, however, they themselves were also not marked by anything bright. By the 37th minute, they did not have a single shot on goal.

But suddenly, everything changed. A gorgeous three-move move involving Glushenkov, Dzyuba and Anton Miranchuk ended with the latter's fall on the edge of the penalty area. And although no penalty was awarded, the violation was qualified as "depriving a real opportunity to score". Pavel Kukuyan conferred with the video assistants and showed a straight red card to Daniil Khlusevich, who came on as a starter instead of the team's leader in terms of minutes played in the season Daniil Denisov. The visitors were short-handed for the second meeting in a row, and the inspired hosts rushed forward and made several dangerous attacks before the end of the half. And they even managed to disturb Oleksandr Maksimenko. But Dmitry Barinov failed to catch the goalkeeper by surprise.

Surely, many expected that Denisov would take the field after the break, but Victor Moses was called upon to cover the right flank. Medina went to rest, with the exception of one brilliant low pass to Zinkovsky, who was not remembered for anything. And it was the Nigerian who became one of the organizers of the scoring attack. It was his connection to the front that helped create both numerical superiority on the sideline and space for Ignatov and Prutsev. And if the first failed to execute a cross to Promes, then the second succeeded. The Dutchman handled the pass perfectly, but did not shoot, but rolled it to the free Zinkovskyi. And he had already left Ilya Lantratov out of work.

Only after that, Lokomotiv really revived. Perhaps the appearance of Pinyaev instead of Daniil Kulikov also contributed to this, but another player was still in the spotlight. At first, Dzyuba almost closed the cross into the penalty area – he was beaten by a fraction of a second by Maksimenko, who played on the way out. But in the second case, no one could prevent him from scoring the eighth goal against his native team. However, Artyom only had to carefully roll past the goalkeeper, while all the main work was done by Glushenkov. It was he who first spectacularly played a one-two with Miranchuk, and then dragged the ball into the penalty area and passed it to his teammate.

Subsequently, Glushenkov could have assisted again, but after Tiknizyan's shot, the ball ricocheted off his opponent and went wide of the target. It is all the more disappointing that one of the best players in the hosts failed to finish the match. Maxim unsuccessfully collided with substitute Christopher Martins and was forced to give way to Timur Suleymanov.

The ending turned out to be a sight to behold. The attack of one team was replaced by the attack of the other, and both the hosts and the guests could snatch three points. In Lokomotiv, one of the most active was Pinyaev, who desperately tried to break a series of 11 meetings without a goal in the RPL. At first, it was he who organized a magnificent counterattack, but neither he nor Dmytro Rybchinskiy, who arrived in time to finish off, could catch Maksimenko by surprise. And then he didn't take the best shot after shifting from the left flank to the center.

At Spartak, Prutsev and Promes lit up. Their first joint attempt to break through the defensive redoubts of their vis-à-vis was bogged down - the Russian unsuccessfully performed a feint. But on the second try, everything worked out. Danil withstood a great pause, waited for his teammate to come out of the offside position and made a pass on the move. Quincy broke into the operational space and, out of habit, shot into the far corner, but missed.

As a result, in the end, none of the teams managed to tip the scales in their favor. Lokomotiv failed to beat Spartak on the power play and extended their winless streak to four games in the Russian Championship. As for Abascal's wards, they can be relatively pleased with themselves. Having played the half with ten men, they almost snatched three points and may have saved the head coach from dismissal.