Nemanja Maksimović made the difference as FC Astana defeated Zhetysu Taldykorgan 2-1 in a home clash (Getty Images)
Week 21 Review: Kairat Almaty share the top with FC Aktobe who suffer a shock against Shakhtyor Karagandy, with FC Astana tightening up the title race and Tobol Kostanay entering the pack of sixth spot chasers
FC Aktobe confirmed they are in the midst of crisis after parting ways with Vladimir Gazzayev as 2014 runners-up lost 1-0 to visiting cellar-dwellers Shakhtyor Karagandy. In a match with a possible Aktobe boss Romanian manager Ioan Andone on the stands, Shakhtyor's youngster sub Sergey Vetrov scored the sole goal in counterattack on 86 minutes, helping his side claim 11th place in the league table.
Despite dropping points in a 0-0 draw with fourth-placed FC Atyrau away from home, Kairat Almaty moved back to the summit, prevailing over Aktobe on superior goal difference. The Oilers were consistent throughout the meeting and kept Vladimír Weiss' men at bay to prolong their lossless run to 15 league matches. "Of course, both teams intended to get all three points. And only time will tell who would lost and who would gain but I'm very respectful to this point because we have fielded many new players and young Timur Rudoselsky did very well," noted Weiss after the game.
Nemanja Maksimović came off the bench to win the game for FC Astana with his header in a 2-1 home triumph against Zhetysu Taldykorgan. The title contenders dominated proceedings and hit the woodwork three times after taking an early lead through their Ukrainian newcomer Denys Dedechko but struggled to capitalise on their advantage. In the final 15 minutes, Zhetysu even struck the equaliser as Rubin Kazan loanee Ruslan Galiakberov headed the ball past goalkeeper Mikhail Golubnichy to register his second goal in two outings in Kazakhstan. However, it was FIFA U-20 World Cup holder Maksimović who had the crucial shot following Serikzhan Muzhikov's corner to seal the points for Astana, something that saw them stay firm in the title race, just one point FC Aktobe.
Ordabasy Shymkent cruised past Okzhetpes Kokshetau 2-1 at home courtesy of Yerkebulan Tungyshbayev and Artem Kasyanov who netted either side of the break before Luka Rotković instantly pulled one back for the promoted team. Ordabasy settled themselves in the fifth position, eight points clear of Irtysh Pavlodar while Okzhetpes, being unable to boost their hopes on top-six finish, extended their away losing streak to three games.
Tobol Kostanay talismanic playmaker Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev was on target from the spot to hand his club a narrow 1-0 victory at Kaisar Kyzylorda. The Wolves, still winless this summer, could prevent the defeat but Zhasulan Moldakarayev's 85th-minute penalty was saved by Alexandr Petukhov, Tobol’s glovesman denying the second spot-kick in a row to lift his team to eighth place. "We had conceded a number of late goals so far, and maybe this time Lady Luck have been on our side. And Kaisar wouldn't get too disappointed since it happens in football. Dmitry Alexeyevich [Ogay] is a good coach, you should keep the faith," said Tobol manager Sergey Maslyonov.
FC Taraz played out a 0-0 stalemate with visiting Irtysh Pavlodar, missing the chance to close the three-point gap on their rivals in the standings. The game was interrupted with 76 minutes gone due to lighting problems at the Central Stadium in Taraz, with the power being restored half an hour later to resume the meeting. By keeping a shutout, Irtysh extended their unbeaten streak under Dimitar Dimitrov to seven matches and remained sixth in the league rankings.
Matchday 21 results
FC Astana 2-1 Zhetysu Taldykorgan
1-0 Dedechko 5, 1-1 Galiakberov 75, 2-1 Maksimović 84
Kaisar Kyzylorda 0-1 Tobol Kostanay
0-1 Zhumaskaliyev 9 (p)
PM: Moldakarayev 86 (Kaisar)
FC Taraz 0-0 Irtysh Pavlodar
Ordabasy Shymkent 2-1 Okzhetpes Kokshetau
1-0 Tungyshbayev 45, 2-0 Kasyanov 51, 2-1 Rotković 53
FC Atyrau 0-0 Kairat Almaty
FC Aktobe 0-1 Shakhtyor Karagandy
0-1 Vetrov 86
Gerard Gohou (Kairat Almaty) – 18 (3p)
Luka Rotković (Okzhetpes Kokshetau) – 9 (2p)
Sergey Khizhnichenko (FC Aktobe) – 7
Dušan Savić (Zhetysu Taldykorgan) – 7 (1p)
Okzhetpes Kokshetau v FC Astana
Tobol Kostanay v Kairat Almaty
Zhetysu Taldykorgan v Kaisar Kyzylorda
Irtysh Pavlodar v Ordabasy Shymkent
Shakhtyor Karagandy v FC Taraz
FC Atyrau v FC Aktobe