Ural defeated Spartak in the opening match of the fourth round of the Russian Football Championship and topped the standings. The meeting at the Ekaterinburg Arena stadium ended with a score of 3:2, and the guests conceded all the goals in stoppage time. Teo Bongonda and Alexander Sobolev during the second half responded to a chic blow by Daniel Mishkic before the break and brought the red and white ahead. However, shortly before the final whistle, Guillermo Abascal’s men conceded twice. Andrey Egorychev took advantage of a gap in the support zone in the 90th minute, while Eric Bikfalvi punished Ruslan Litvinov and Ilya Svinov in the 94th minute for inconsistency.
In 2023, the matches between Ural and Spartak could have become boring for many. In addition to the meeting in the second round of the RPL, the paths of the teams crossed in the 1/4 finals of the Russian Cup. The red-whites were considered favorites, but in the end they did not win a single victory. The first two games ended in a draw, and in the third, Guillermo Abascal’s wards lost completely, allowing Yekaterinburg to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. Therefore, it was extremely reckless to give preference to them on the eve of the next confrontation, although they approached him as the leader of the championship.
Intrigue was added by several other factors. One of them was the absence of the main goalkeeper Alexander Maksimenko at the gate. As the head of the Spartak press service, Dmitry Zelenov, told Match TV, the footballer had recently recovered from the infection, and therefore the Spanish specialist did not dare to put him on the start. As a result, the post No. 1 was taken by Ilya Svinov, who conceded four goals from Pari NN in the Cup three days ago. Missing in the application and continuing the set of forms Shamar Nicholson, whose possible departure from the capital is still actively discussed in the media.
In general, personnel changes in comparison with the meeting with Nizhny Novgorod residents were colossal. The line-up changed by 80%, in addition to Svinov, only Jesus Medina got into the base for the second time in a row, along with Quincy Promes, Theo Bongonda and Alexander Sobolev, who entered the attacking quartet. A couple in the center of defense was formed by Georgiy Jikia and Ruslan Litvinov, and ex-defender of Olympiacos Oleg Ryabchuk appeared on the left, making his debut at the start. Looking ahead, the newcomer looked more than confident. And although he did not help his partners much in front, he rarely made mistakes from behind.
Ural, on the other hand, could not count on four important performers at once, among them Rai Vlut and Ibraim Cisse. At the same time, Eric Bikfalvi, who is also experiencing health problems, still got into the application. However, his appearance on the Ekaterinburg Arena field remained a big question.
Start sport “Urala”
Spartak has already managed to impress many at the beginning of the season, for the first time in its history, scoring five victories in a row. But after all, for the “Ural” this segment was extremely successful. In three rounds, the wards of Viktor Goncharenko scored seven points, which they had not previously been able to do in the RPL, and already in the first minutes they could apply for an extension of the successful series. Litvinov blocked the opponent’s long-range strike with his hand, giving Kirill Levnikov a reason to point to the point. Viewing the video replay confirmed the referee’s decision, but Svinov did not allow to open an account. The young goalkeeper outplayed Daniel Miskich and fished the ball out of the bottom right corner.
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But the assault on the gates of Spartak did not end there. Until the 20th minute, “Ural” bothered Svinov twice more, but if Alexander Yushin, who shot from a distance, was far from successful, then Alexei Kashtanov, who broke through to the target, almost brought the hosts ahead. The forward opened right between Jikia and Litvinov and shot dangerously, and after that he almost did not succeed in finishing. Zobnin interfered, insuring both the confused defenders and the already won back goalkeeper in time.
And although by the middle of the half, the red-whites gradually established a combination game, failures in defense continued to occur with enviable regularity. And the reason for this was largely in the Muscovites’ super-attacking scheme, which, when in possession of the ball, transformed from 4-3-3 to 4-2-4. During the defense, Medina fell on the same line with Zobnin, but this did not work at all. The Paraguayan did not even try to work out in defense, which is why the Yekaterinburgers over and over again found themselves in the majority when moving to someone else’s half of the field.
At the same time, it cannot be said that the abundance of creators helped Spartak to act effectively ahead. In fact, in the first half hour there were only riding casts from the right flank to Sobolev, who dominated on the second floor. But if at the beginning of the half he did not succeed in hitting, then in the middle he almost caught Ilya Pomazun by surprise.
Toward the end of the 45-minute period, the pressure of Ural noticeably subsided, as a result of which Spartak began to enter the other half more and more often. But it was not possible to break into the penalty area, which provoked the guests to beat from afar. Alternately, the sight was checked by Medina and Promes. But if the Paraguayan was very inaccurate, then the Dutchman almost fell under the crossbar.
However, the ending still remained with the Urals, which took advantage of the inconsistency in the actions of the defense of Spartak. It all started with the fact that Litvinov lost a power struggle to Kashtanov and allowed him not only to process a pass in the penalty area, but also to make allowances for a partner. But if Yushin’s dribble kick was blocked, then Mishkic, who supported the attack with a second pace, was not restrained by anyone. Christopher Martins, who had lost his position, was desperately trying to stop the Croat, but he calmly shot into the corner.
The phenomenal return of the red and white
For Spartak, the first half turned out to be frankly a failure. And it’s not just the ball conceded in stoppage time, but also the difference in the number of dangerous episodes. Ural was much sharper in front and delivered twice as many shots (11:5), which could not suit Abaskal. And although the Spaniard did without permutations, after the break, a slightly different team appeared on the field. The number of mistakes was reduced, Promes and Bongonda began to help Sobolev a little more actively. And pretty quickly it paid off. It was the arrival of the Congolese in the penalty area that confused the cards for the defenders of the hosts, who traditionally focused on the Russians. Alexander took the opponent behind him and thus allowed Theo to freely hit his head from the goalkeeper’s line. Pomazun had no chance to help out.
For a long time, Spartak failed to build on the success. Mikhail Ignatov, who replaced Medina, did not help to accomplish this, his task was to establish a connection between the middle and attacking lines. Promes, Bongonda and Sobolev continued to solo, but there was not enough specifics. What can not be said about the “Ural”, which used every opportunity to strike. One of the main addressees for the partners was Guilherme Shettine, who appeared from the bench. At first, he almost took advantage of Martins’ mistake, but hit Svinov directly, and then missed a 100% chance. The Brazilian hit for sure after a cross from the flank, but hit the post.
At this time, the composition of the red-whites has already been solidly updated. In addition to Ignatov, Nail Umyarov entered the field, who was supposed to strengthen the support zone, and the duet on the right flank was formed by Daniil Khlusevich and Anton Zinkovsky. And it was the last two who almost organized a productive attack on their own goal. In attack, they were not very productive, obviously not justifying the hopes of Abaskal.
In this situation, the role of the savior had to be taken on by proven fighters. And one of these was Sobolev. If in the episode with the first goal it was he who advanced the attack on the right flank, then this time he did everything himself. Responding to a pass 25 meters from the gate, he broke through to the center and struck from the penalty line. He turned out to be not the strongest and most accurate, but Italo’s leg was in the way of the ball. The ball changed direction and passed next to the disoriented Pomazun.
Fiasco at the end
To win the sixth victory in a row and remain in first place in the RPL, the Muscovites needed to hold out for only nine minutes, not counting injury time. However, the ending turned out to be really discouraging for the red-whites and clearly demonstrated that they have colossal problems in several aspects at once. With a difference of four minutes, they conceded twice and suffered their first loss of the season.
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The first goal came from a set piece, thus reminiscent of the confrontation with Pari NN. True, this time not from a corner or from a penalty kick, but from a free kick. Although his appointment raised certain questions, the inconsistency of the players during his draw does not justify this. Muscovites again forgot about the area in front of the penalty area and gave Andrei Yegorychev, who was left all alone, to play on the rebound and shoot Svinov. As in the case of the first goal, Martins made a desperate attempt to prevent him, but did not have time. And it’s not a fact that this would be enough. A second earlier, Christopher stopped the ball with his hand after a shot by Ilya Ishkov.
The second was the result of a glaring inconsistency in the actions of Litvinov and Svinov. Shettina’s discount in the penalty area did not portend trouble: Ruslan put the body to Bikfalvi, who had left the bench, and waited for the goalkeeper to defuse the situation. But he openly gaped and just watched the Romanians create another miracle. Forward incredibly managed to get to the ball and throw it over the sluggish goalkeeper.
Ural extended its unbeaten streak in the confrontation with Spartak to four meetings, scored ten points in four rounds of the Russian championship and sensationally broke into the first line in the table. True, Krasnodar and Krylya Sovetov can replace him tomorrow. The first will be tested by Orenburg, the second – by Lokomotiv.