The party’s over – Russia’s football season comes to a close
The Russian Premier League football season has come to a close. With Rubin Kazan having clinched their first ever title almost a month ago, the battle for the league's UEFA Cup spot took centre stage on the final day.
In the battle of last year’s champions and runners-up Zenit St Petersburg guaranteed themselves another continental adventure with a victory over Spartak Moscow. With all but one European place secured, this game was the most crucial of the final match day of the season.
Zenit were in the driver's seat – a win against their arch-rivals would see them qualify for the UEFA Cup, regardless of other results, while Spartak needed the other games to go their way as well.
The St. Petersburg side showed how serious their ambitions were after just four minutes. Danny put Pavel Pogrebnyak through on goal, who evaded his markers easily. The striker made no mistake one-on-one. This was the Russian international's sixth goal of the campaign, after missing a big part of the season due to injury.
Zenit were in rampant mood, doubling their lead a quarter of an hour later. Andrey Arshavin used his considerable strength to out-muscle Clemente Rodriguez and flick the ball into the path of Danny. The Portuguese slammed it home for 2-0. And another mistake led to the UEFA Cup holders scoring again at the end of the first half. Danny sealed his double with this superb finish.
In the second half Spartak did at least try and make a contest out of it. Aleksander Prudnikov stole the ball on the left-hand-side before crossing it to Aleksander Pavlenko. The latter made no mistake, but that was as good as it got for the red and whites. The 2007 champions didn’t get anywhere close to retaining their crown this year, but their coach insists fifth place isn’t bad.
Meanwhile, Krylya Sovetov sealed sixth place in the table after getting the better of Terek in a seven goal thriller. The game finished 4-3 for the home side. Lokomotiv ended a disappointing season, with a 2-1 win over the Champions Rubin.
A capacity crowd saw Dynamo beat the Tomsk side 2-0, in the last ever match to be played at the club's 80-year-old stadium. Amkar ended an excellent season, by beating Khimki 3-1, while Saturn and Spartak Nalchik played out a one-all draw in Ramenskoye.
Shinnik were already facing relegation before the final match day, but went out with a bang beating CSKA 1-0. And FC Moscow claimed their first win in five games with an easy 3-0 win over already relegated Luch Energiya.
So here are the final standings: champions Rubin as well as CSKA play in the Champions League next season, and Dynamo will have a shot in the second round of qualifiers. Amkar and Zenit go to the UEFA Cup, while Shinnik and Luch have been relegated.