At FC Aktobe, Roger Cañas (C) decided the game in favour of FC Astana (fca.kz)
Week 23 review: As the playoffs phase raises the curtain, FC Astana leapfrog Kairat Almaty in the title race, Irtysh Pavlodar snatch another good result and Okzhetpes Kokshetau seized top spot in the Relegation group
Kairat Almaty weren't able to dominate Ordabasy Shymkent in an entertaining 0-0 draw at the Kazhymukan Munaitpasov Stadium in South Kazakhstan. As a result, the regular season winners dropped to second in the Championship group of the league playoffs where every team have their points tally halved, rounded upwards.
Roger Cañas headed the only goal for FC Astana nine minutes from time to sink FC Aktobe 1-0 on the road as the Western side failed to snap their home losing streak which is three matches in all competitions. This allowed the capital club to claim the top spot for the first time since Week 8, opening a two-point lead over Kairat. "We have prepared well, we were organised and created a host of chances but missed them. And I have no doubts that we could win big if we have scored first," lamented Aktobe boss Ioan Andone.
Irtysh Pavlodar continued their impressive run of form with a 2-0 win over FC Atyrau, something that means Dimitar Dimitrov's men keep running unbeaten throughout all summer. Fernander Kassaï put the hosts in front before the interval and Evandro Roncatto closed the scoring at the dying moments of a tense clash in Pavlodar. Irtysh who lost only one of their last 11 matches, still sit sixth but moved to within just a point of Atyrau and Ordabasy.
Championship round standings
In their first game under Russian coach Fyodor Scherbachenko who replaced Dmitry Ogay, Kaisar Kyzylorda shared the spoils with FC Taraz, the match ending in a 0-0 tie to extend the Wolves' winless run to eight outings. Both teams played with ten men for the better part of the encounter, Kaisar's Sergey Keiler and Taraz's Izu Azuka both ejecting from the game in the 26th minute.
Shakhtyor Karagandy and Okzhetpes Kokshetau played out a 0-0 stalemate in a battle that saw the visitors more dangerous. "We have problems with our balance and rhythm, yet it was an even game with a number of goalscoring chances. And Okzhetpes have the most remarkable approach in the league in terms of possession and short passing, they are the team with quality and a very good coach," said Shakhtyor manager Igor Zakharyak.
Ruslan Galiakberov, on loan from Rubin Kazan, bagged a brace to extend his Kazakhstan tally to six goals as Zhetysu Taldykorgan defeated Tobol Kostanay 3-1 in the week's last meeting. Tobol were set to claim seventh place but instead of home win over improved cellar-dwellars could only cancel out Galiakberov's early opener through the penalty kick from Ihar Zyankovich. In the hectic start of the game, with three strikes inside quarter of an hour, Bauyrzhan Turysbek immediately restored the visitors' lead. And it was Galiakberov who sealed the victory in the 73rd minute with his double to send Zhetysu into 10th position in the table.
Relegation round standings
Matchday 23 results
FC Aktobe 0-1 FC Astana
0-1 Cañas 81
Ordabasy Shymkent 0-0 Kairat Almaty
Shakhtyor Karagandy 0-0 Okzhetpes Kokshetau
Irtysh Pavlodar 2-0 FC Atyrau
1-0 Kassaï 38, 2-0 Roncatto 90
Kaisar Kyzylorda 0-0 FC Taraz
RC: Keiler 26 (Kaisar), Azuka 26 (Taraz)
Tobol Kostanay 1-3 Zhetysu Taldykorgan
0-1 Galiakberov 3, 1-1 Zenkovich 14 (p), 1-2 Turysbek 16, 1-3 Galiakberov 73
FC Astana v FC Atyrau
FC Aktobe v Ordabasy Shymkent
Kairat Almaty v Irtysh Pavlodar
Zhetysu Taldykorgan v FC Taraz
Okzhetpes Kokshetau v Kaisar Kyzylorda
Tobol Kostanay v Shakhtyor Karagandy
Gerard Gohou (Kairat Almaty) – 18 (3p)
Luka Rotković (Okzhetpes Kokshetau) – 10 (2p)
Sergey Khizhnichenko (FC Aktobe) – 8
Djordje Despotović (Zhetysu Taldykorgan / Kairat Almaty) – 8
Kostyantyn Dudchenko (Irtysh Pavlodar) – 7