Attendance: 6 150
Missed penalty: Schurrle (66, keeper)
Thun is a small town in Bern, situated in the heart of Switzerland, on the lake of the same name. It’s entire population of 42 thousand would fit inside our home stadium. The local club founded in the 19th century, but only became successful this century. In 2005 Thun finished runners-up in the national league. It’s been in the top division for 14 seasons, starting 2003, mostly finishing mid-table during the time.
Last season our opponents made the cup final and finished 4th in the league: behind Young Boys, Basel and Lugano. However you should always exercise caution with Swiss teams, as Sankt Gallen proved to Spartak 6 years ago in the Europa League.
Interestingly enough, there’s someone who connects us to Thun in a way: Murat Yakin. Spartak’s former head coach trained Thun between 2009 and 2011, helping the team to promotion and finishing 5th the following season, before leaving for Luzern. The club colors is another connection. Around 400 of our supporters travelled to Switzerland and were seated opposite Thun fans in a 10-thousand stadium. Both sets greeted each other warmly before kick-off.
Thun play on artificial turf. Some Spartak players were left out of the squad as a result, like Eschenko. Larsson and Til were also missing, having represented Norrkoping and AZ at earlier stages respectively. However they trained with the rest of the squad and joined their teammates in the stands soon after kick-off.
By the time they did, however, the hosts pulled off their first dangerous shot: Nikki Havenaar heading over from a corner. Midway through the second half we opened the scoring: Mirzov delivered the ball inside the box after a mazy run and Ponce’s first-time shot allowed the Argentinian to open his account for us.
We doubled the lead soon after. A good passing move saw Bakaev curl a shot inside the far post from 25 yards out, with the keeper stranded.
At the outset of the second half Thun pulled one back. Maksimenko parried Stillhart’s effort away, but Hefti was first to hammer the rebound under the bar. Minutes after Maksimenko’s bravery in a one-on-one situation saved us another, but not for long. Just before the hour Rapp headed home following a loss of possession on the wing and a cross.
Inside just 15 minutes our two-goal cushion was gone. Schurrle was introduced straight away, won a penalty and went to take it. However he failed to convert the spot-kick, Faivre doing a good job to save the shot.
However this relative setback was soon overcome and resulted in a third goal for the visitors. Schurrle set up Bakaev inside the box with a clever pass and Zelimkhan poked it home for a fine finish and his first goal for the senior side.
Our Academy graduate tapped the badge during his celebration in front of our fans. Spartak got an important away win, but it's too early to rest for now - the Swiss side has already shown they can be a handful.
The team will stay in Switzerland for a couple of days, before flying directly to Grozny for our next league game.