RAZ 6164_1Winning Stability Of Team Russia

On Thursday, January 21, the XXIV Commonwealth Cup witnessed the finishing third match-day in both groups, A and B. The situation in these groups turned out to be polar opposite prior to the last match-day.

Let us remind that the team of Moldova has won the group A, qualifying to the final already after two match-days. These six points out of the six possible have allowed the team coached by Danut Oprea to play the third match in the group against the Belorussians in an "energy-saving" mode before the final. The Romanian specialist, indeed, left some key players on the bench, but already during the first half he started to send his leaders on the pitch, for Belarus has taken the initiative and eventually won the first half, having scored from a penalty spot on the last minute. After a half-time the Moldovan team improved its play and managed to equalize. But the better motivated Belorussians took the lead again almost at once and this time managed to keep it till the end.

2:1 was the final score of the Belarus-Moldova match which brought a very interesting breakdown prior to the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan match. Both teams had chances to take the second place in the group as a way to the bronze medals match. To get it, Kyrgyz team needed either a win or a draw. The task of the Kazakhs was much harder: to get to the "bronze match" they needed to win against team Kyrgyzstan with either a two-goal difference or a one-goal difference and a big score like 3:2, 4:3 or so. And in case Kazakhstan won over Kyrgyzstan 1:0 or 2:1, then two of these teams would have given way to the bronze match for Belarus!

...And in the last minutes of a dramatic Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan game the screen was showing (to the delight of the Belorussians) exactly this score: 2:1 for Kazakhstan! But a free kick came, and almost the whole Kyrgyz delegation sprang together with the players to hug Abai Bokoleev who scored a beautiful goal to make it 2:2!

Thus, the team coached by the young Mirlan Eshenov has surely entered the four strongest of the tournament. And the squad of Serik Abdualiyev deserved sympathy: team Kazakhstan spent nearly the entire match in minority, although being very close to winning this match...

To summarize, the places in group A are as follows: 1. Moldova 2. Kyrgyzstan 3. Belarus 4. Kazakhstan. With equal number of points (4 each) the Kyrgyz overcame the Belorussians thanks to the 1:0 win in the match between the two teams.

The "intrigue of the finishing match-day" in group B involved only two teams: Estonia and Russia. The teams of Martin Reim and Nikolay Pisarev each had two wins, but the Estonians have scored 6 goals against Latvia and Tajikistan, whereas the Russians got only 4. Thus, even in case of a draw Estonia would take the first place in the group (by the best goal difference) and qualify to the final. To be able to take part in the main tournament match, Russia needed to win against Estonia in any way...

But at first there were the 3rd and the 4th places distributed between teams Latvia and Tajikistan. Well, the Tajik team may be called the most unfortunate on the tournament. Even with an unsuccessful course of the matches, the young players of the Ukrainian coach Roman Pylypchuk wouldn't give up and kept playing – playing a real football. Thus, the Tajiks were sticking to their strategy also in the match with Latvia, and even when the score was 0:2 against them, they managed to make a comeback! But a draw wasn't in favor of Tajikistan still. They ran to score more and missed a counterattack of the Latvian team that finished with a free kick and a disappointing goal in the decisive match...

Eventually, it was the hosts of the tournament that qualified to the final, winning group B! The team of Nikolay Pisarev had an especially successful first half of the match against Estonia, having skillfully taken benefit of the opponents' excessively careful tactics. The active team of Russia scored two goals by half-time. First was Mikhail Zhabkin from Astrakhan to score almost from the goal area after a right wing cross. And then Ramil Sheidaev who just returned to Zenit from a loan in Rubin performed a strong and accurate medium-distance shot. Not long before the end the Estonians shook their wings and Andre Jarva even scored finishing a solo performance, but Russia did not let anything more to happen.

Pisarev's squad have won all the three matches in their group with the same 2:1 score! One may say that none of team Russia supporters will be against if this tournament-born "tradition" is prolonged to the final. Although, team Moldova is likely to have a different opinion...

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