The Bulls Lost in the Opening Match at Their New Venue

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UEFA Europa League 2016/17. Group I. MD 3. FC Krasnodar (Russia) 0-1 FC Schalke 04 (Germany)

FC Krasnodar (Russia) 0-1 (0-1) FC Schalke 04 (Germany)

Goals: Konoplyanka, 10 (0-1).

FC Krasnodar (Russia): Kritsyuk, Jędrzejczyk, Granqvist, Martynovich, Petrov, Kaboré, Eboue (Gazinskiy, 55), Ahmedov (Mamayev, 75), Podberyozkin (Laborde, 67), Joãozinho, Ari.

FC Schalke 04 (Germany): Fährmann, Höwedes, Naldo, Nastasić, Baba, Caiçara, Stambouli, Aogo, Konoplyanka (Schöpf, 67), Meyer (Huntelaar, 77), Di Santo (Kehrer, 90+3).

Yellow cards: Naldo, 73 (foul play), Di Santo, 84 (foul play) – Gazinskiy, 90+2 (foul play).

Referees: Clattenburg, Collin, Bennett, Marriner, Attwell (all England).

20 October 2016. Krasnodar. FC Krasnodar Stadium. Cloudy. 9 degrees. 33 550 spectators.

The signboard for the first FC Krasnodar match at their new club stadium looked more than impressive. The opposition was a representative of the German Fußball-Bundesliga and a frequenter of the UEFA Champions League that had found themselves in the second best European tournament merely by chance, one may say. Both teams achieved a 100-percent result in the first two matchdays meaning that a possible success in this particular fixture would elevate the winner to an uncontested first position in the standings, and it would almost surely secure their qualification into the UEL knockout stage, too. The status of the game was also emphasized by the fact that its refereeing was entrusted to the Briton Mark Clattenburg, perhaps the best referee in the world nowadays.

… For some reason it is uncustomary for the Krasnodar supporters to occupy their seats at the stadium well in advance; sometimes they do it even after the game has commenced. Despite the numerous entry gates spectators would fill the stands for twenty minutes past the kick-off again tonight; thus a lot of them missed the goal FC Schalke 04 scored as early as on the 10th minute preceded by the incessant attacks of the German team. In the very beginning the Bulls were obviously nervous with their housewarming as if they did not believe this beauty of a stadium now belonged to them. As a consequence, they committed a lot of mistakes in the simplest situations while the visitors played calmly and confidently as if it were their habitual home venue.

Even though Kritsyuk saved the black-greens on the 6th minute directing the ball to a corner kick after a point-blank shot by Meyer, he was unable to cope with the volley taken by Yevhen Konoplyanka. The Ukrainian midfielder sent the ball from 15 meters precisely into the second top corner of the net.

No sooner had they conceded this goal than the Bulls were able to push the game away from their box, and only because the visitors eased their pressure a bit. And yet, S04 would still attack both more dangerously and comprehensively than their opponents, while the Krasnodar players kept on failing to create anything solid in front. Most of their attacking actions either came to naught at the far approaches to the opposite penalty area or smashed next to its borders against the concrete defensive wall of the German team. Still and all, the black-greens managed to get hold of the territory as they neared the half-time, and that became their principal achievement in the first half.

The players led by Igor Shalimov entered the pitch for the second half more focused than for the first, so they never allowed an early failure this time. Little by little the Bulls were improving their playing advantage, and with an hour of the game done it became rather strong. The attacks against the goal guarded by Fährmann went one after another; some of those looked very promising, but the Krasnodar players lacked a bit of efficiency in the final third.

The overcrowded stands were very loud in urging on their favorites to go forward until the very full-time, and the black-greens attacked desperately coming close to scoring an equalizer on the 90th minute. Laborde, who had made the Bulls play sharper next to the away goal with his appearance in the game like he always does, beat the marking player with a feint and took a shot into the second corner at a short range; the German keeper read what the Colombian had intended however and took a firm grip on the ball.

FC Schalke 04 kept the winning score and became the leaders of the Group I. As for FC Krasnodar, alas, they failed to celebrate their opening match at the new home venue with a victory, but the situation in the group standings is still fairly good for the Bulls. A lot will be decided in this regard in the next matchday when our team travels to Gelsenkirchen.

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