CSKA beat Rostov to Russian title on final day
CSKA Moscow claimed the Russian title in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season with a 1-0 win at Rubin Kazan on Saturday, as Rostov’s unlikely challenge failed to finish in glory despite a 2-0 victory over Terek Grozny.
Russian international midfielder Alan Dzagoev netted the only goal of the game as CSKA ended the campaign with six consecutive wins to finish two points above Rostov, whose whole team were surprisingly tested by FIFA for meldonium last week.
Rostov do though qualify for the Champions League, which they will enter at the third qualifying round, for the first time, just days after being cleared by FIFA over the meldonium allegations.
In Kazan, Dzagoev fired past helpless Rubin keeper Sergei Ryzhikov from just inside the area following a defensive mix-up in the 19th minute.
Rubin had an excellent chance to equalise and give Rostov the title on head-to-head goal difference with just five minutes remaining, but visiting keeper Igor Akinfeev pulled off a double save from Igor Portnyagin and Mijo Caktas.
“The happiness goes on. Everything is cool!” CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said, joking that his heart had stopped working after Akinfeev’s intervention.
“I’m proud to work in such a club, together with such classy footballers.”
Rostov dominated at Terek Grozny and Ecuadorian playmaker Christian Noboa put the visitors in front in the 30th minute from Timofei Kalachev’s corner.
Midfielder Alexander Yerokhin added a second five minutes after the interval, tapping in Iranian Sardar Azmoun’s pass.
Rostov head coach Kurban Berdyev insisted that the consolation of European football was still a fantastic result for his team.
“It’s a great success for the club,” Berdyev said.
“My congratulations to all who supported us.”
Zenit St Petersburg, Krasnodar and Spartak Moscow will represent Russia in the Europa League.
Dynamo Moscow and Mordovia Saransk were relegated and will be replaced by Gazovik Orenburg and Arsenal Tula in the top flight next year.
Anzhi Makhachkala and Kuban Krasnodar will play in the relegation play-offs against Volgar Astrakhan and Tom Tomsk respectively.
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