Posts Tagged ‘Zenit 2’

Zenit St Petersburg 2 v Leningradets, Friday 4th June 2021, 7pm.

June 16, 2021

I’d visited Saint Petersburg during the 2018 World Cup and watched a couple of games at the Gazprom Stadium with Paul. Jen had never been though and so I took a couple of days holiday and we went for a long weekend.

I imagine that you can probably fly to Saint Petersburg from Moscow in around an hour or so. There’s a fast train too that takes you there in under four hours. Instead Jen and I decided to travel more slowly on the overnight train which departed from Leningradskiy station in Moscow at 23.40, getting into Saint Petersburg around nine hours later the following morning.

We had the poshest category of cabin on the train, complete with our own shower and toilet. It wasn’t as luxurious as the Blue Train in South Africa where I’d enjoyed a bath, but it was pretty good. We were served with dinner at midnight in our cabin and then shunted over the table to make space to fold down the bed. There was also a bunk above but we both fitted fine on the pull-down lower option.

We had a decent view of the countryside leading up to Saint Petersburg as we had breakfast the next morning and then a driver met us at the train door to take us to our hotel. It was a pleasant way to travel.

As our hotel room wouldn’t be available until later we dumped our bags and went for a wander around. First stop was the Saviour on the Spilled Blood church. I’d seen the outside of this place on my previous visit, albeit covered in scaffolding. It looked as if the restoration work remained ongoing as the upper section of the building was still hidden by protective wrapping.

The inside of the church was impressive. Maybe the best I’ve been in over here with mosaics on a lot of the walls. The paintings on the underside of the dome were better than I could have done, which is always my starting point in assessing the merits of artwork. In fact, they were much better than I’d have done, maybe because there are fewer things that I dislike more than painting ceilings.

Jen and I also had a look around the State Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace which is somewhere that Paul and I had queued for back in 2018 but then given up on due to the time taken to get inside. This time nobody was in line and we were able to waltz straight in.

It was ok as museums go. I can usually see what I want in these places without hanging around much and the highlight of this one was a tapestry depicting various jungle animals eating each other.

Or at least I thought the highlight was the tapestry. As we were heading for the exit our route took us through the Egypt department. I like Egyptian stuff anyway but on this occasion they had excelled themselves by having the mummified corpse of what they claimed was a priest. I’ve no idea how they knew and to be honest I didn’t really care what the bloke had done for a living three thousand years ago. It’s just good to have dead people on display.

The trip had originally been built around the third-tier Professional Football League fixture between local rivals Zenit 2 and Leningradets. The new football App that I have threw up a few alternatives but in the end we stuck with the original plan and took a taxi to the Smena Stadium.

A lot of the route looked familiar and I soon realized that it was the route that Paul and I had walked three years ago after confusing the ground used by Zenit’s second team with the World Cup stadium that usually hosts the Zenit first team’s fixtures. Fortunately, on that occasion we realized our mistake in sufficient time to avoid missing out on seeing Brazil play in a World Cup game.

On arrival at the Smena Stadium we joined the queue for free tickets, then the queues to get in and finally the queues for scanning. Jen got turned back in order to deposit her backpack in the left luggage store whilst I got asked to switch on both my phone and camera. It was stricter than an airport and all for a game in the third-tier game with no more than a few hundred attendees.

We had been given tickets for the main stand. There were a few away fans in the stand opposite and some vocal Zenit fans behind the goal to our right. There was a particularly vocal Zenit fan a few rows in front of us too. He seemed to struggle in enunciating his words with each song or chant blurring into nothing more than noise.

After a while he was warned by the stewards not to be an arse and he responded by making a dash for it to a seat around ten yards away. The steward went for another word and he did the same thing again. Eventually he was left to make his noise.

Zenit took the lead just before half-time but it didn’t take long for Leningradets to equalize after the break. It became apparent that there were around equal numbers of fans of each club in the main stand where we were sat. Or people who are happy to cheer a goal no matter who scores it.

Conceding an equalizer seemed to piss off the home bench and after a few minutes of giving lip to the officials one of their coaches was shown a red. He disappeared down the tunnel, perhaps after considering the security measures that he would have had to go through if he had wanted to watch the remainder of the game from the stand.

Jen and I had seen Zenit play in Moscow the previous week and had noticed a fella with an impressively twirly moustache. At the end of that game he went down to the front to chat with one of the players. On seeing the two of them together it appeared highly likely that the player was his brother, different only by being clean shaven.

Moustache fella was sat just behind us for this game and well into the second half his centre-half sibling scored a fantastic goal with an on the angle volley whilst falling backwards. I turned immediately to see the joy on moustache fella’s face.

Sadly, that effort didn’t turn out to be the winning goal with the visitors scrambling an equalizer with just four minutes to go for a two-all draw.

Olimp Dolgoprudny v Zenit 2, Sunday 27th September 2020, 4pm

October 9, 2020

My search for a game this week threw up the prospect of a third-tier match at Dolgoprudny, which is a town twenty miles north of Moscow. It didn’t look the easiest place to get to with the Metro falling too far short for me to walk the remaining distance and my reluctance to get on an overcrowded bus where few of the passengers wear masks. In the end I took the easy option and went by taxi. The cabs are cheap over here and my hour-long ride set me back a tenner.

I’d no idea if I would ever go back to Dolgoprudny, so I thought I’d better make the most of whatever charms it has. I checked on Trip Advisor and the number one attraction was the Church of St George. That didn’t really fill me with a lot of enthusiasm, but it looked to be an hour’s walk or so from the stadium and so I thought it would make a decent starting point for pre-match stroll.

As the taxi approached Dolgoprudny there was a spectacular looking church to the left of the highway. It had multiple turrets topped with brightly coloured onion bulbs. It left me with high hopes for Dolgoprudny’s number one church. On my arrival at the Church of St George a few minutes later though I was somewhat disappointed. It was definitely a church, but a lot less fancy than the one I’d passed two or three miles back.

Nevertheless I had a look around. It had a decent set of bells outside and a few pictures on what I presume were saints inside. No dragons. Normally I’ll pay a bit of attention to the floor tiles but they looked little better than standard shopping mall marble. If the weather had been poor I might have hung around a bit longer but it was a bright crisp day and so I thought I’d set off for the Salyut Stadium and hope to stumble across something better on the way.

Once outside I checked the map on my phone and discovered that the stadium was less than an hour’s walk away. A lot less. It was actually two hundred and twenty metres away. A tortoise could probably have done it in an hour. It gradually dawned on me that the taxi had brought me to the wrong church, possibly due to St George being a popular saint around these parts. By chance this wrong church was adjacent to the football ground whilst the right church was very probably the fancy one that I’d passed on the road a little earlier. It was difficult to feel pissed off about it as I’ve had far worse mishaps in getting to a ground and I suppose I should be grateful that I hadn’t ended up on the wrong side of Moscow.

With time to kill I had a wander around the neighbourhood, pausing for a while to watch some fellas tarmacing a road. I could look at that sort of thing all day, with the machine being fed lumpy stuff by shovel at the front before excreting a perfectly flat surface out of its back end.

I’m not entirely convinced that the workmen appreciated being photographed by some weirdo and so after a while I left them to it and made my way into the stadium.

I had the usual temperature check and was searched at the turnstile, although not so thoroughly to prevent me taking a couple of cans of coke in with me. Someone handed me a flyer in lieu of a ticket, although with no admission charge it seemed somewhat unnecessary.

The Salyut stadium holds five thousand when full, presumably just in its two stands, each situated along the side touchlines. There wasn’t any provision for spectators behind the goals, but as there was a running track around the artificial pitch that’s probably just as well.

Only one stand was open, the one on the tunnel side and I took a seat towards the centre and in the back row.

My half of the stand filled up significantly and I ended up with a bunch of kids to the front, left and right, some of them squeezed in together tightly enough for them to be sharing two seats between three of them. I thought all of that unnecessarily risky and so moved to the other side of the tunnel where the stand was virtually empty, maybe because it had been designated for the away fans. There were fourteen of them singing fairly constantly in support of Zenit and making a decent racket for the size of their turnout. Plenty of songs seemed to mention Leningrad, so maybe the past name for St Petersburg remains in common use.

There were still people coming into the ground throughout the first half and a lot of them were sensibly making their way through to the away section. It was possible to keep a good distance from everyone else though, even when the bunch of kids that I’d escaped from earlier made a re-appearance.

Olimp were clearly an older bunch of players with Zenit’s second team being a lot younger and probably a development side. Olimp went into the game at the top of the league, in this case Group Two of the Professional Football League, whilst Zenit were about halfway up the table.

The visitors had the best of the chances in the first half but it was Olimp that took the lead with a penalty just after the half-hour and they went in at the break a goal to the good.

Olimp added a second a few minutes after the restart when Zenit failed to take a couple of opportunities to clear. With the home side pressing forward it looked at that stage as if Olimp might put themselves out of reach. However, they got sloppy and gave away a penalty with a foul right on the outward corner of the box on a Zenit player who was going away from goal. It don’t think it was possible for the attacking player to have posed any less of a threat in that position. The Olimp keeper saved the defender’s blushes though by throwing himself to his left and turning the spot kick onto the post.

Zenit seemed re-energised by the penalty and pulled one back soon after before squandering a good chance to equalize a few minutes later in a goalmouth scramble where the ball was prevented from crossing the line by a defender lying flat out and blocking the ball as if saving a try at rugby.

Despite some late Zenit pressure, Olimp held on for the win to maintain their position at the top of the table.