Attendance: 25 538
Ufa, a team we have a negative head-to-head record with, came to Moscow to play a counter-attacking game. Ufa are currently fighting to avoid a relegation play-off, and they needed to win in the capital to further that aim. The club’s management said as much publicly before the game. Vadim Evseev, Ufa’s head coach and formerly our ex-player, is renowned for motivating his teams to fight until the very last seconds in games like this - something he has demonstrated several times. Ufa didn’t go down easily once again, but Spartak did manage to get the hard-fought win.
Umyarov made his senior debut for us. Guliev was suspended after picking up his 8th booking of the season, and so in came Nail to play at the base, having proved himself in training. 11 minutes into the game our debutant played a part in the passing move which led to the goal - Melgarejo and Ze Luis were the final links in that chain, the former’s cross was met with the latter’s thumping header. It was Ze’s 9th goal of the season.
After the lively opening period the rhythm of the game slowed down somewhat. This seemed to favour Ufa’s approach, but in reality nearly played into Spartak’s hands. The players in red-and-white upped the tempo before half-time and could have doubled their lead. Tashaev’s shot was parried for a corner by Belenov, before Fernando’s effort fizzed wide of the post moments later.
Early stages of the second half brought about a chance for Ufa to equalise, however Zobnin was on hand to block a menacing shot. Another moment of danger followed, this time Maksimenko was called into action to deny Zhivoglyadov with his leg. Our team had their moment to score on the hour, when Melgarejo’s header seemed destined to ripple the net, but Belenov showed extraordinary reflexes to parry the shot.
Ten minutes later Tashaev’s solo run didn’t get the reward it merited, with a ricochet off a defender denying Aleksandr the goal. Melgarego then missed another header, despite coming very close again.
A second goal would have put all the doubts over the result to rest, but it didn’t happen, keeping the red-and-white supporters on edge until the very last minute. But they didn’t need to: Spartak got the much-needed win in the end.