Spartak Moscow – Lokomotiv Moscow: Match Report and Press Conferences

Spartak fans unveil a new banner dedicated to Massimo Carrera at the Otkrytiye Arena. Source: Alexey Spektrowski/RFN.

Spartak Moscow – Lokomotiv Moscow 3-4 (2-0)

Spartak Moscow: Selikhov – Eschenko, Tasci, Bocchetti, Kombarov – Glushakov, Pašalić (Fernando, 72), Samedov, Ananidze (Melgarejo, 46), Promes – Luiz Adriano.

Lokomotiv Moscow: Guilherme – Ignatyev, Kverkvelia, Pejcinovic, Rybus (V. Denisov, 46) – I. Denisov, Barinov (Kolomeitsev, 78), Tarasov (An. Miranchuk, 46) – Al. Miranchuk, Fernandes, Farfán.

Goals: Glushakov, 30 – 1:0. Luiz Adriano, 43 – 2:0. Barinov, 48 – 2:1. Al. Miranchuk, 68 – 2:2. Kolomeitsev, 83 – 2:3. Fernandes, 90 – 2:4. Promes, 90 – 3:4.

Booked: Samedov, 27. Al. Miranchuk, 59. Fernandes, 64. Ignatyev, 72.

Sent off: Samedov, 45 (second yellow card).

19th August 2017. Moscow, Otkrytie Arena, 33,027 spectators.

 

The Saturday clash between Spartak and Lokomotiv probably thrilled everyone who watched it, except for Spartak fans. The drama was almost perfect: Spartak confidently took the lead, then their player gets sent off, Lokomotiv score a quick second-half goal that gives them hope, and we see an epic comeback win. But let’s start from the beginning.

Before the match and during half-time, very touching ceremonies of generational unity took place: Spartak legends Nikita Simonyan and Sergei Rodionov gave championship awards to the Spartak Reserves and Spartak Academy 2001 teams. Accompanied by applause and the immortal We Are The Champions, the young lads ran laps of honour – their first and, let’s hope, not the last.

A few Lokomotiv supporters tried to spoil the celebrations with an obscene chant but were quickly booed down, both fans from both sides.

Spartak’s starting eleven had some surprises: The midfield boss Fernando remained on the bench, as well as Dzhikiya, who’s quickly turning into the defensive leader for the Champions. After the game, Carrera explained that Pašalić and Bocchetti showed themselves better and more prepared at training. Jefferson Farfán also started up top for Lokomotiv upon his return from inury, a welcome boost for Semin’s men.

Bocchetti did play well, seemingly justifying the coach’s choice; he made some good tackles and once even joined the attack. However, Lokomotiv’s most promising moments in the first half came from his zone of responsibility.

Spartak attacked more in the beginning, as any good hosts should. Carrera’s men wanted to prove that their bad form at the start was just a fluke, though their pressure didn’t yield them many moments, only Samedov’s long-distance shot was anywhere near dangerous.

On the 10th minute, the Spartak fans stand unveiled a huge banner: “Massimo Is One of Us”. Later, at the press conference, the Italian coach sincerely thanked the supporters and said he was sorry that he was unable to bring them much joy lately. Although in the first half, Spartak did give the fans quite a bit of joy: First, they repelled their opponents’ attacks (Selikhov saved two shots, and when even he couldn’t help, Pašalić didn’t allow Farfán to have a clean shot at the empty goal), and then scored twice.

When Quincy Promes received the ball in the far corner of the box, almost on the goal-line, it’s unlikely anyone would think that Spartak would open the scoring 15 seconds later. But that’s exactly what happened: Promes dribbled past several defenders and passed the ball to Glushakov. The captain seemed to have miskicked, but the ball still slowly made its way into the net.

The goal demoralized the visitors a bit, and they couldn’t do much in attack after that. Towards the end of the half, Lokomotiv conceded again as Luiz Adriano scored his trademark one-touch goal after Promes’ through ball.

Who would predict at that moment that Lokomotiv would go on to win this 4:3? Perhaps only some hardcore betting lovers. But the moment that largely turned the game around came in first-half injury time. Aleksander Samedov tried to intercept the ball that came off a defender in Lokomotiv’s box and went down after being challenged. From the stand, it seemed that Alexei Eskov (the referee worked the first half almost perfectly, in accordance to the old adage – “the best referee is the one who doesn’t get noticed”) could have just told Samedov to get up, but he instead headed for Samedov with a yellow card in his hand. Despite desperate efforts from Promes and Glushakov to get him to change the decision, Eskov showed Samedov his second yellow card (he got the first one back when it was 0-0 after fouling Miranchuk).

The coaches said that tactical councils were held in both dressing rooms during the half-time. Carrera was choosing between fielding an additional defender or just getting someone out to fill Samedov’s position, finally deciding for the latter and substituting Ananidze with Melgarejo. Semin made two half-time changes: Anton Miranchuk and Vitaly Denisov (first appearance in the season for the latter) for Tarasov, who had a small injury, and Rybus, who just didn’t play too well.

The second half began with an almost hockey-like power play from Lokomotiv; pressure from the first minutes resulted in a corner, and after Manuel Fernandes’ cross, young Dmitry Barinov won the aerial challenge with Kombarov and headed the ball into the net, off the post. A great way to score his first-ever senior goal!

Unfortunately for Spartak, that wasn’t a hockey match, and in football, you don’t get to equalize the number of players after conceding a goal while being a man down. Ten minutes later, the numbers didn’t equalize to as Alexei Miranchuk viciously tackled Glushakov, and Eskov showed him the yellow card without hesitation, though this foul was perhaps worthy of a straight red card.

And soon after dodging that bullet, Miranchuk leveled the score. Eschenko stumbled and couldn’t mark Fernandes in time, Fernandes crossed into the far post, and Miranchuk deftly sent the ball over Selikhov who tried to intercept him.

Arithmetically, the game started looking like the Dinamo – Spartak match from the first round. However, this time Spartak didn’t just stand on their half and defend. Almost immediately after the Miranchuk goal, Fernando replaced Pašalić, and the Red-Whites had some good attacks, giving Guilherme opportunities to show himself. Luiz Adriano shot twice in one attack, and then Glushakov missed a sitter after remaining unmarked in front of the goal.

“If you don’t score, they do.” A cliché? Perhaps, but this had to happen often enough for the phrase to become a cliché in the first place. Soon after that Glushakov moment, Spartak missed a counter-attack, and after another inch-perfect pass by Fernandes, Kolomeitsev only had to hit the ball cleanly from around the penalty spot to give Lokomotiv the lead, deservedly on the balance of play.

Manuel Fernandes was on fire that day. Even in the first half, which wasn’t exactly great for Loko, he led the team forward and created chances. And in the second half, he added a stunning goal to his assist hat-trick and yellow card. Sidestepping Melgarejo, Fernandes struck from 30 or so meters; Selikhov was caught off guard and only managed to touch the ball before it hit the net.

Lokomotiv seemed to have started celebrating their hard-earned win a bit early: perhaps that’s why they conceded virtually immediately after Spartak’s kick-off. Quincy Promes got the ball, entered the box, dribbled past two defenders and send the ball past Guilherme. 1+2 from Promes, 1+3 from Fernandes: two players had a hand in all seven goals of this dramatic game!

Still, that wasn’t the end of it. Even Selikhov ran to Lokomotiv’s penalty area for the game’s very last free kick! If that was a Hollywood sports movie rather than a simple football game, the following chain of events would most probably ensue: Fernandes fouls Selikhov (and who else? There’s nothing more dramatic than a hero who becomes an antihero in just one moment, and vice versa), Eskov gives the penalty, Promes goes to take it… and misses.

Of course, nothing of the sort happened. Fernando crossed the ball, someone tried to play a header and missed, and Eskov gave the final whistle. It was only the second time Lokomotiv managed to score four goals against Spartak in one-half (in the first game, played in 1949, even that didn’t help the Railwaymen as they lost 4-6), and also the second time they defeated Spartak after being down 0-2 (in 2007, Pavlyuchenko even managed to score a hat-trick, but that didn’t faze Loko a bit.)

Massimo Carrera in his post-match press conference. Source: Alexey Spektrowski/RFN.

Spartak Manager Massimo Carrera was the first to arrive at the post-match press conference.

Massimo, why can’t Spartak win local derbies this season despite taking the lead? Dinamo, CSKA, now Lokomotiv…
Didn’t you notice that we were a man down? This, sadly, throws the game off-balance. We had our share of mistakes today, but you can’t really compare this game to the other two.

After several losses, especially as painful as yours, there’s always a question, what do we do now? Does the team, or you personally, feel any panic or anxiety? What will you do now?
There’s no panic. This is football. You have to get up and prepare for the next game. There shouldn’t be any anxiety. Of course, we should correct the mistakes we make, but we don’t panic because of them.

It seemed from the stands that Spartak had some troubles in midfield during the opponents’ attacks. Do you think that the team perhaps needs a “classical” defensive midfielder whose job is winning balls back for the team?
We didn’t have any major problems in the first half. Yes, Lokomotiv played well between the lines, but both teams had their good moments.

Why weren’t Fernando and Dzhikiya in the first eleven today – especially Dzhikiya, who didn’t miss a game before that?
Dzhikiya and Fernando weren’t used because I saw some details in the training that convinced me to use Pašalić, Glushakov and Bocchetti today.

How did you react to the banner the fans made for you?
Of course, I’m delighted to have such strong support from our fans. It’s a pity we couldn’t bring them joy. We’re working and playing to make the fans happy, and it’s very nice to have their support.

Did you consider substituting Ananidze for a third central defender? Lokomotiv likes to play counter-attacking football.
We did consider that, but we feared that we would get pinned in our own half, and it would be hard to get the ball into attack. So we fielded Melgarejo, to keep the 4-4-1 formation and counter-attack.

Is Selikhov now the first-choice keeper?
Selikhov is a Spartak goalkeeper, like Rebrov and Maksimenko. Right now, he is playing.

You were unhappy with Luiz Adriano after his red card against Zenit. Do you think that Samedov also let the team down with his second yellow card for diving?
I don’t think Samedov did that on purpose. Sadly, such episodes can turn a whole game around. I was unhappy with what Luiz Adriano did, but it’s a completely different thing.

Today, the weather was somewhat extreme – too hot for Moscow at this time of year, and you were down to ten men for 45 minutes. Do you think the team’s physical conditions are optimal for such an environment?
The team’s physical form is good. Of course, you can always improve your form, but it’s good. We were down a man for 45 minutes but still managed to score the third goal. I think that our form is good enough, both physical and mental.

Don’t you fear that two losses in a row may negatively affect players before the Khabarovsk voyage?
No, this shouldn’t affect them in any way. I reiterate: This is football. You can’t win all the time. You can prevent losses with hard work, but nobody is undefeatable. Of course, our morale isn’t as high as it was last season when we managed to win a lot and left the field in good mood. We should understand that life goes on, roll up our sleeves, and move forward.

You said that Samedov’s sending off negatively affected the match. Do you think that only the red card is at fault when your team concedes four goals in 45 minutes from a team whose weakest line, as many specialists think, is attack?
There’s no doubt that the red card affected the result. But, of course, it’s our fault too. Playing with ten men against a good team is difficult.

You also said that there were no problems in the first half, but even when the numbers were equal, Lokomotiv had their fair share of moments. Do you think you’ve lost the tactical battle to Yuri Semin?
No, I don’t. In the first half, we’ve played successfully. Lokomotiv played well, but we managed to hold them off and get a 2-0 lead. Then some episodes changed the match, and that’s all.

Today, the wing backs didn’t play especially well. A cross from the right wing and an unmarked player on the left wing just runs up and scores. Does that position need strengthening?
I’ll reiterate again: Spartak had only ten men in the second half. Playing with a numbers disadvantage is different, if you close off the centre, you allow the opponents to play down the wings, and when you close off the wings, you allow them to play in the centre, and Lokomotiv’s central midfielders are dangerous.

Yuri Semin faces the press post-match. Source: Alexey Spektrowski/RFN.

Yuri Semin was in a jovial mood. On his way to the press conference table, he joked, “We got unlucky in the Super Cup, but we got lucky today.”

What helped you defeat Spartak? In which components were you better? What are your emotions? Congratulations on the win.
First of all, we didn’t deserve 0-2 in the first half. Spartak had an advantage, but few good moments. We basically organized those two goals ourselves and failed to score. In the second half, Anton Miranchuk and Vitaly Denisov played very well as substitutes. We changed our formation, scored a lucky goal from the corner, the team’s mood improved greatly, and we managed to win.

You won brilliant games against favourites – Spartak and CSKA, but your wins against Anzhi and Arsenal were much more lackluster, and you even lost to Tosno. Why does the team perform better against leaders than against lower-ranked teams?
I think it has to do with concentration. We’re working on it, discussing it in detail, but the problems still persist. We’ve still got a lot of work in that department.

Have you rewatched the episode with Aleksei Miranchuk? Didn’t he deserve a straight red card after the tackle against Glushakov?
No. But I have rewatched the Super Cup, and I thought that Luiz Adriano should have been sent off. But he wasn’t. That’s life.

Do you remember how Bezborodov explained that? “If it’s possible not to send the player off, don’t.”
Look at the Samedov episode as well. He made a step and then fell on his own accord.

Some 17, 18 minutes before the end, you’ve almost ran on the field and then waved your hands. I can’t remember anything particularly important happening at that moment…
Emotions. Someone lost an easy challenge.

What did you say to the team at half-time?
I didn’t criticize them. The lads played well in the first half, the goals notwithstanding. We just restructured the formation, cleared out some moments, played a better passing game, used the flanks more… Simple things.

Any words in particular that turned the game around?
No. The thing that turned the game around was the change in tactics. Explained to the substitutes how they should play.

If you were satisfied with the first half, why then you replaced Rybus and Tarasov? Were they to blame for the goals?
Not, not that, though in one of those episodes, they didn’t play particularly well. Tarasov has a small achilles tendon injury, so we didn’t want to risk and aggravate it further. Concerning Rybus – we had to change something, so we used a new player in his place.

Yuri Pavlovich, do you think you’ve tactically outplayed Carrera today?
It’s up to you to decide – you’re the specialists here! [Laugh in the hall].

How well did Farfán perform today at his centre-forward position? He’s mostly a winger.
Farfan is an exceptional player. I can only imagine how great he was in his youth. He can play in any position. He had to play as a centre-forward today, and he did that, he was very useful.

A strange question; would Dzyuba be useful for today’s Lokomotiv?
I can’t answer because I can only comment on the players who train with my team, who passed the medicals and signed contracts with Lokomotiv. Dzyuba is a Zenit player, I won’t say anything about him.

If you remember, a year ago, when you first played Spartak at the Otkrytiye Arena, Lokomotiv bought out the away sector tickets, and they were packed as a result. This time, the club didn’t help, and so there weren’t as many away fans. Why is the attendance so bad? Don’t the fans believe in your team?
I wouldn’t say that our attendance is bad. Our stadium’s attendance is even better than the last season. Why didn’t the fans come here – I don’t know. Perhaps the tickets were too expensive? Still, those who did come had a joyful today. Very tough weather, so hot that I couldn’t even sit down. But still, the tempo was great, the game was brilliant, despite the suffocating heat.

Couldn’t you ask to move the match to a later time?
That’s not up to me to decide. I don’t determine the starting time; the league and TV does.

Do you know what happened to Barinov? He seemed to be injured.
I hope everything is well with him.

How do you recover from such an emotional match? The fans would probably need several days, but what about the players? Or you personally?
I’m very happy. I don’t need to recover from wins. I feel very good, I’ll have a dinner with some friends, and then I’ll be ready to work. And the players will get two days off after the victory. That’s their reward!

We saw a fascinating thing today: in Carrera’s training zone, there were no water bottles at all, but around you, there were 27 or 28 laying around! Do you think that your side bested Spartak emotionally?
I don’t know. Last season, Spartak was emotionally better than everyone else. If we managed to equal them, it’s a good thing, we use them as our emotional benchmark.

Don’t you think that Spartak aren’t as emotional this season? They couldn’t hold onto win against Dinamo, lost to CSKA, and now to Lokomotiv…
This is not a question I can answer.

In the beginning of the press conference, you said you were lucky today. In which way?
I wouldn’t say we got lucky with the goals… the goals were brilliant, after good combinations. I think we were lucky because the players on the field didn’t give up – usually, after 0-2, they do. We got lucky with the players. They fought until the end and found their chances.

Are Lokomotiv now championship contenders, after such a good start and wins against CSKA and Spartak?
No, we’re just going from one game to the other, we don’t look as far ahead. Now, all thoughts are about the next game with Ural.

You’ve defeated Spartak many times. Will you remember this victory as one of the greatest?
Today, the win may seem the greatest, and tomorrow, it may not. Spartak were quite spirited today, they wanted to vindicate themselves after losing, and it was very hard to defeat them. I’m glad that we managed to win.

Author: Alexey Spektrowski

I’m a Spartak Moscow fan who dabbles in Soviet/Russian football history (mostly numerical and statistical). Contributed some data to the Spartak Moscow museum at Otkrytie Arena.

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