There is such an anecdote: the team’s players ask the coach what he would like to receive as a birthday present. The mentor replies: the best gift will be a victory. “It’s too late, coach, we’ve already bought you a tie!” – players declare.
Holiday at the workplace
Football goalkeeper CSKA Igor Akinfeev On April 8, I risked being in the position of a coach from an anecdote. The goalkeeper celebrated his 35th birthday, so to speak, at his workplace – the army team played an away match of the 1/4 finals of the Russian Cup against Arsenal Tula.
Winner of the 2005 UEFA Cup, bronze medalist of Euro 2008, quarterfinalist of the 2018 World Cup – these are only the most significant achievements of Akinfeev. He is the only goalkeeper in the history of Soviet and Russian football who has played 300 matches “to zero”, the record holder among all Soviet and post-Soviet goalkeepers in terms of the number of games in his career. In general, a living legend of our football. Despite the achievements and status, gambling excitement, as well as passion for victories, Akinfeev has not lost. Therefore, on his birthday, he strove for another success.
CSKA in Tula played in the Russian championship not so long ago. CSKA suffered an unexpected defeat, which brought the resignation closer Victor Goncharenko… And the team arrived at the cup match with a new mentor, Ivica Olic…
Many people today have a skeptical attitude towards Olic as a coach. And CSKA’s debut match under his leadership against Tambov could hardly dispel this skepticism. CSKA beat the outsider, but at the same time lost during the meeting, and both goals were scored from the penalty spot.
The Russian Cup for CSKA is now of great importance. The team has not won trophies for a long time, and Ivica Olic is not averse to backing up his coaching ambitions with tangible success. In the Russian Cup, this is the easiest thing to achieve – before leaving for Tula, only three victories separated the army from the trophy.
But the cup tournament is an unpredictable thing. In addition, Arsenal’s mentor Dmitry Parfenov knows very well how to achieve success in the Russian Cup. In the 2017/18 season, he won the trophy as head coach of Tosno, and in the 2018/19 draw he became a finalist with FC Ural.
Ivica Olic in the Tula meeting decided to try a new variation in the attack – he returned to the starting lineup Chalovpreviously supplanted Rondon… It was he who had to open an account at the very beginning: Fernandez beat the defender on the flank and found Chalov with a pass in the center of the penalty area. The striker hit his head without hindrance, but the 26-year-old Arsenal goalkeeper Egor Shamov coped with the blow.
Shamov, by the way, is a graduate of the CSKA academy, and the match against the army team and personally Akinfeev was fundamental for him. He tried to do everything to spoil the holiday for the main star of the Russian goalkeeper workshop.
I must say that the guests, after a cheerful start, lost the initiative. There were many corners at the Arsenal goal in the first half, but they did not conceal much danger. But the owners used the first opportunity.
CSKA defenders “forgot” the Arsenal forward when serving into the penalty box Evgeniya Lutsenko… The main scorer of the Tula team last season scored 15 goals, 9 of which – head. And in the current meeting with CSKA, he once again demonstrated that he scores masterfully from the “second floor” – 1: 0. The birthday boy Akinfeev could only shrug his shoulders and pretend to be his defense.
After a couple of minutes Ejuke was close to leveling the score, but Shamov played well. Arsenal went on hiatus, taking the lead.
It seems that the successful course of the meeting weakened the vigilance of the hosts. CSKA’s corners in the first half looked so toothless that Arsenal seemed to have decided that the opponent’s standards were absolutely safe.
Otherwise, it is difficult to explain why the Tula missed the defender with a cross from the penalty kick. Karpova, who, sneaking up to the far post, did not leave Shamov a chance – 1: 1.
Lutsenko’s negligence and Dzagoev’s skill
And then Yevgeny Lutsenko came to the fore again. The Arsenal forward received a yellow card in the first half for a foul on Diveeva, but did not play more carefully. On the 55th minute in a riding fight, he hit the same Diveev in the nose with his elbow. Most likely, the forward did not want to be rude, but the violation was obvious – the second yellow card, which automatically turns into a red one.
After CSKA was in the majority, Olic released Rondon, thus increasing the pressure on the opponent’s goal. But it cannot be said that after that the number of dangerous moments increased. CSKA played the ball for a long time, but it was not possible to bring someone to the decisive blow.
But Arsenal made a quick counterattack, and Tkachev punched into the bottom corner. It would be a goal, but here Akinfeev showed himself in all his glory, not allowing the hosts to come forward again.
At the 71st minute, Olic made another substitution, releasing instead of Oblyakov, who recovered from another injury Alana Dzagoeva…
Alan, who, like Akinfeev, at one time managed to play with Olic the player, did not disappoint the new head coach. At the 2018 World Cup, Dzagoev’s appearance turned into a pass to Fernandez, who equalized the score in the match with Croatia. In the game against Arsenal, this link worked again. In the 86th minute, Alan made a splendid through pass from the penalty line, which stumped both the defense and the goalkeeper of the hosts, but Fernandez read it brilliantly – 2: 1.
Semifinals – April 21, final – May 12
In the last minutes Arsenal rushed forward and started a fire in the CSKA penalty area. The Tulyans were close to leveling the score, but Karpov managed at the last moment to knock out the ball from an opponent who was in a deadly position.
As a result, there was no tie – CSKA celebrated Igor Akinfeev’s birthday with a strong-willed victory and reaching the semifinals of the Russian Cup. In addition to the army team, the fight for the trophy is continued by Lokomotiv Moscow, Krylia Sovetov Samara and Akhmat Grozny. CSKA’s rival in the semifinals will be determined by a draw. The semi-finals are scheduled for April 21, and the finals are to take place on May 12.