CSKA Stumble and Lokomotiv Charge Full Steam Ahead

On the third matchday of the Russian Superliga, defending champions CSKA were the only home team not to come away with all three points and the Moscow outfit subsequently surrendered their top-of-the-table position to their crosstown rivals. Let’s recap the action.

Round three got started in Perm, with Chertanovo traveling east to face Zvezda. After an outstanding performance last week, Devils ‘keeper Diana Ponomareva didn’t cover herself with glory on Perm’s first goal. The Chertanovo stopper dallied on the ball and saw her attempted clearance blocked by the onrushing Nadezhda Ilinykh. The scorer was beside herself with joy and Zvezda – and neutrals, too – had more reason to be joyful soon after, when Kristina Khorosheva scored this beauty just ten minutes later.

Chertanovo’s inability to create meaningful chances was once again apparent and with a match against CSKA on the horizon, the youngsters could be in for a long season.

Speaking of which, the usually so dominant CSKA weren’t at their scintillating best and dropped points for the first time this season when Tatiana Zaitseva’s Krasnodar came to town. For large stretches of the match, it seemed as though it would be business as usual – especially after Gabrielle Onguéné put the champions ahead with her fourth goal in three games – but Krasnodar were resolute in their defending and refused to be pushed over.

Polina Organova leveled things up with a penalty and later delivered the free kick which Elena Kostareva tucked away after seeing her initial header rebuffed by Elvira Todua. CSKA weren’t to be deterred, however, and went straight down the other end, eventually winning a penalty, which Nadezhda Smirnova duly converted; her third spot-kick goal in as many games. Onguéné missed a difficult header from about a yard out later on, but in truth, CSKA never looked like finding a winner. The spoils were shared and Lokomotiv took advantage.

The other Moscow outfit made hard work of lowly Yenisey, but Elena Fomina’s side eventually found a late go-ahead goal thanks to captain Anna Kozhnikova. Lok retained their perfect record and now sit pretty at the top of the standings, two points ahead of CSKA, but the season is still young, of course. Yenisey, meanwhile, are convening with Chertanovo at the foot of the table.

The fourth and final game of matchday three saw Ryazan beat Zenit with a gorgeous long-range goal from Natalya Perepechina. The struggles of Olga Poryadina’s team continue, with the winless St. Petersburg outfit having a tough time in the attack. Only Yenisey, who are yet to score a goal, have found the net fewer times than Zenit. Spirits were high after the opening day performance against CSKA, but last week’s scoreless draw and now this defeat will have spoiled the mood a fair bit.

As games come thick and fast, there is little room for any prolonged slumps. The upcoming match against Lokomotiv will be a tough challenge, but the Blue-White-Sky Blues’ fixtures become a bit kinder with clashes against Chertanovo and Yenisey soon after. Olga Poryadina will be desperate for her team to turn their fortunes around.

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