Kairat Almaty became a first stage winner ahead of Aberdeen FC clash in the UEFA Europa League (fckairat.kz)
Week 22 review: the first stage of the campaign is over with Kairat Almaty maintaining the summit thanks to goal difference advantage over FC Aktobe and Irtysh Pavlodar grabbing a sixth spot while Kaisar Kyzylorda continue struggling
Kairat Almaty finished regular season as league leaders, Vladimír Weiss men stunned Tobol Kostanay 3-1 away from home to secure top spot. Before the hour-mark, Djordje Despotović recorded the brace and Aslan Darabayev killed off the contest, although Kairat failed to keep a clean sheet with Kostanay iconic captain Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev firing a late free-kick. "The only thing that annoyed me is our poor conversion rate. One goal from five chances is too much," said Weiss whose charges are gearing up for Aberdeen FC battle in UEFA Europa League.
Romanian manager Ioan Andone made an excellent Kazakhstan debut, guiding FC Aktobe to a comfortable 2-0 win at fourth-placed FC Atyrau. In the Western derby, the visitors found the back of the net in the opening moments in each half, Sergey Khizhnichenko and Marcos Pizzelli being on target to make the difference. Aktobe earned the same amount of points as Kairat but Almaty club have a much better scoring stats.
Former RSC Anderlecht striker Junior Kabananga Kalonji scored twice to give FC Astana a narrow 2-1 away win over Okzhetpes Kokshetau, which saw reigning champions strengthen their grip on third position in the league ahead of their UEFA Champions League action. Following goalless first half, Alibek Buleshev struck for the host side before Astana's Congolese international responded with a double in space of a minute. The capital city club with just one point behind their rivals Kairat Almaty and FC Aktobe, resuming their league crown defence. "I displeased with our first-half performance as we looked sluggish and like we were afraid of our opponents. After the interval we did better but conceded these two goals from set pieces in just a minute. It's a shame since we had all the chances to level the match," said Okzhetpes boss Vladimir Mukhanov.
Meanwhile, Irtysh Pavlodar prolonged their unbeaten streak to eight games and claimed a top-six football after seeing off Ordabasy Shymkent, a couple second-half goals handing Dimitar Dimitrov's outfit a convincing 2-0 victory. Kostyantyn Dudchenko put Irtysh in front to record his seventh of the season before Evandro Roncatto doubled the lead via late penalty. Ordabasy were a second-better side throughout the proceedings and ended the game with ten men following Alexandr Geynrikh's dismissal in the 87th minute. Nevertheless, it was the Southerners who stay fifth, five points clear of impressive Pavlodar team. "When I came to the club I thought it's impossible to get the sixth place 'cause we've managed to bag just one win in the whole first half of the regular season. But lads did worked a miracle, they are heroes," said Irtysh's Bulgarian manager.
Shakhtyor Karagandy grabbed a hard-fought 2-0 win against FC Taraz, scoring only in the closing stages of the match. Ukrainian newcomer Maksym Feshchuk broke the deadlock on 76 minutes and Roman Murtazayev's effort sealed the result on the stroke of full-time. The Miners finished the first phase of the campaign in the 10th place trailing Taraz, who sit one spot above them, by measurable six points.
Ruslan Galiakberov was Zhetysu Taldykorgan's hero again as Semirechye side leapfrogged Kaisar Kyzylorda on goal difference in a relegation battle by beating them 2-1 in a tense home encounter. Rubin Kazan loanee gave the hosts a lead with 12 minutes on the clock but Kirill Shestakov equalised nine minutes later. However, Zhetysu managed to take it all, Galiakberov netting his second after the break which means Kaisar extended their miserable run of form (only two points in eight games) and hit rock-bottom.
Matchday 22 results
Okzhetpes Kokshetau 1-2 FC Astana
1-0 Buleshev 48, 1-1 Kabananga 53, 1-2 Kabananga 54
Zhetysu Taldykorgan 2-1 Kaisar Kyzylorda
1-0 Galiakberov 12, 1-1 Shestakov 21, 2-1 Galiakberov 58
Irtysh Pavlodar 2-0 Ordabasy Shymkent
1-0 Dudchenko 50, 2-0 Roncatto 90 (p)
RC: Geynrikh 87 (Ordabasy)
Tobol Kostanay 1-3 Kairat Almaty
0-1 Despotović 20, 0-2 Despotović 48, 0-3 Darabayev 58, 1-3 Zhumaskaliyev 73
Shakhtyor Karagandy 2-0 FC Taraz
1-0 Feshchuk 76, 2-0 Murtazayev 90+4
FC Atyrau 0-2 FC Aktobe
0-1 Khizhnichenko 10, 0-2 Pizzelli 46
Gerard Gohou (Kairat Almaty) – 18 (3p)
Luka Rotković (Okzhetpes Kokshetau) – 10 (2p)
Sergey Khizhnichenko (FC Aktobe) – 8
Djordje Despotović (Zhetysu Taldykorgan / Kairat Almaty) – 8
Dušan Savić (Zhetysu Taldykorgan) – 8 (1p)