Five Russians have played in the Champions League match. But it did not help the best team in Armenia
Kirill Zakatchenko July 11, 2023, 20:12 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Former Spartak coach Gunko had an unsuccessful start in qualifying for the main European Cup tournament.
The best club in Armenia played the first qualifying game for the Champions League. As part of Urartu, five Russians entered the field at once, but the team still lost.
Urartu had an excellent season last season. The team of Russian coach Dmitry Gunko scored a “golden” double – won the championship and the Armenian Cup. The new season started for her with a European Cup match. In the first qualifying round of the Champions League, Urartu beat Bosnian Zrinjski Mostar. This club, like the rival, finished last season with gold medals and the country’s Cup.
Interview with Gunko after the victory in Armenia:
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The bookies before the game considered the guests as the favorites of the match. The probability of Zrinjski going to the next round of the tournament was estimated at 60%. Gunko assembled a starting eleven with three Russians for the match. Alexander Melikhov took a place at the gate, Leon Sabua played in the midline, and Artem Maksimenko was in the center of attack. Three other Russian players (Dmitry Abakumov, Oleg Polyakov and newcomer Pavel Mogilevets) remained on the bench.
The first part was not very eventful, although both were able to score at the end. Zrinjski’s striker Matja Malekinusic rocked the post: he aimed for the nearest corner after a cross from the right flank. Minutes later, Urartu midfielder Marcos Junior forgave the guests. The number 33 of the Armenian club seemed to hit the mark, but the ball flew inches from the far post.
During the break, the Urartu coaching staff reduced the number of Russians on the field. Gunko sent Sabua and Maksimenko to rest, and they were replaced by Polyakov and Yaya Sanogo. The Frenchman once played for London Arsenal and Ajax, moving to Urartu at the beginning of 2023. The 32-year-old Polyakov, in turn, did not rise above the level of the First League. Here is the contrast!
Alexander Melikhov is one of the five Russians who entered the field in the Champions League match
Photo: FC Urartu
At the beginning of the second half, “Urartu” almost realized the standard. The hosts won a free kick right in the center of the goal, and Zhirair Margaryan beautifully shot the “wall”. To the dismay of the fans in the stands, the ball hit the crossbar. But this was not the last dangerous moment at the gates of Zrinjski Mostar.
At the end of the match, Urartu covered the rival with pressure, and Sanogo had to open the scoring. Instead, a black attacker from close range hit the goalie directly. And in general, the striker’s strike turned out to be a little clumsy. Not what you expect from a former Arsenal player. Sanogo’s troubles didn’t end there. A few minutes later, the Frenchman left the field due to injury; he was replaced by Araz Ozbiliz. The one who played for Spartak. Pavel Mogilevets also had five minutes. Therefore, five players from Russia took part in the match at once.
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“Urartu” did not take advantage of his chances, for which he was sanctioned. The goalkeeper Melikhov unsuccessfully played at the start after a corner, and the defender of the guests Matei Senich sent the ball into the net with his head. The referee threw seven minutes for the main time, but the locals did not recover. Although in the last few seconds Narek Grigoryan almost missed it in the far corner. The second leg will take place in a week in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Perhaps the champion of Armenia will perform more successfully there.