Week 18 Review: FC Aktobe avoid an unexpected loss in Semirechye, Kairat Almaty won the Two capitals derby, while Irtysh Pavlodar keep improving under their new manager
Substitute Didar Zhalmukan's stoppage-time leveller allowed FC Aktobe to rescue an away point and remain unbeaten this season in a dramatic 1-1 draw with ten-men Zhetysu Taldykorgan. The league leaders struggled against relegation-flirting side who opened the scoring on 65 minutes, Djordje Despotović heading in Marat Shakhmetov's corner. After increasing tempo and pressure in seeking a response, Aktobe took a numerical advantage thanks to Bauyrzhan Turysbek’s 77th-minute dismissal. Ivan Azovsky's men stood until the dying moments but nonetheless couldn't keep a clean sheet as Zhalmukan found the back of the net amid the mayhem in the hosts' box. "From the very start, the encounter was a substantial one, it went in a combinational manner, like a chess game. Though Aktobe were more robust in attack in the second half, my lads had strong feeling that they were able to challenge even such opponents," noted Azovsky.
Kairat Almaty beat FC Astana 2-0 in a tense battle at the Central Stadium courtesy to strikes from Isael and Bauyrzhan Islamkhan (pictured) either side of half-time. The Brazilian broke the deadlock with a brilliant solo effort just before the interval and Kazakhstan international added the second from the spot following a foul on Gerard Gohou in the 51st minute. Kairat claimed second place in the league standings, moving to within four points of Aktobe and one point clear of Astana.
Third bottom Kaisar Kyzylorda registered a 1-1 home stalemate against fifth-placed Ordabasy Shymkent, with both goals of the game coming in the space of three minutes after the break. Despite Kaisar's domination, Azat Nurgaliyev handed UEFA Europa League qualifying round participants a narrow lead from spot-kick. Zhasulan Moldakarayev instantly made things all square but therefore the Wolves were kept at bay.
Ivan Ivanović headed home in injury time to secure surprising pack FC Atyrau a 2-2 away draw against a solid promoted side Okzhetpes Kokshetau. The Oilers were in a driving seat at half-time as Roman Grigoyev met Volodymyr Arzhanov's corner to flick the ball into the net in the 36th minute before Vladimir Mukhanov's men came from behind with Alibek Buleshev and Luka Rotković both firing midway through the second half. Okzhetpes played a man down since the 64th minute as Alyaksandr Pawlaw received his marching orders and Ivanović got the late salvation from another Arzhanov's corner but Atyrau extended their winless streak to four outings.
Tobol Kostanay leapfrogged FC Taraz in the mid-table after beating them 3-0 at home, Igor Yurin scored two first-half goals which sandwiched Igor Zenkovich's clinical finish. Failing to recover and losing Zhakyp Kozhamberdy to a direct red card with 13 minutes to go, the Southern club suffered a bitter defeat, their seventh in eight matches.
Meanwhile, Irtysh Pavlodar recorded a 3-1 comeback victory over visiting Shakhtyor Karagandy to earn their third win in four games under the guidance of recently appointed Dimitar Dimitrov. Irtysh's new boy Alassane Ndiaye hit a brace to cancel out Roman Murtazayev's 30th-minute opener and Vladislav Chernyshov killed off the game on 54 minutes as Shakhtyor had Mihret Topcagić sent off with 16 minutes remaining and produced another poor performance, confirming their bad away form and rock bottom position. "Our success is well deserved, because we controlled the game. Yes, our opponents scored in their first attack, but we could equalise immediately. I am happy with our reaction since it was important for us to win," said Dimitrov.
Matchday 18 results
Zhetysu Taldykorgan 1-1 FC Aktobe
1-0 Despotović 65, 1-1 Zhalmukan 90+1
RC (2nd YC): Turysbek 77 (Zhetysu)
Kaisar Kyzylorda 1-1 Ordabasy Shymkent
0-1 Nurgaliyev 56 (p), 1-1 Moldakarayev 59
Tobol Kostanay 3-0 FC Taraz
1-0 Yurin 11, 2-0 Zenkovich 21, 3-0 Yurin 40
RC: Kozhamberdy 77 (Taraz)
Irtysh Pavlodar 3-1 Shakhtyor Karagandy
0-1 Murtazayev 30, 1-1 Ndiaye 33, 2-1 Ndiaye 47, 3-1 Chernyshov 54
RC (2nd YC): Topcagić 74 (Shakhtyor)
Okzhetpes Kokshetau 2-2 FC Atyrau
0-1 Grigoryev 36, 1-1 Buleshev 53, 2-1 Rotković 68, 2-2 Ivanović 90
RC: Pawlaw 64 (Okzhetpes)
Kairat Almaty 2-0 FC Astana
1-0 Isael 45+1, Islamkhan 51 (p)
Gerard Gohou (Kairat Almaty) – 18 (3p)
Dušan Savić (Zhetysu Taldykorgan) – 7
Luka Rotković (Okzhetpes Kokshetau) – 7 (1)
FC Taraz v Zhetysu Taldykorgan
FC Astana v Kaisar Kyzylorda
FC Atyrau v Irtysh Pavlodar
Shakhtyor Karagandy v Kairat Almaty
Ordabasy Shymkent v Tobol Kostanay
FC Aktobe v Okzhetpes Kokshetau