Champions League - Ari gold as Spartak end run
Spartak Moscow maintained their 100 per cent record in Champions League Group F as Ari scored in each half of a 3-0 victory at home to MSK Zilina, giving the Russians their first home win in the competition in 11 matches.
The Brazilian forward struck with a 34th-minute header and a poacher’s finish just after the hour mark as the Russian side added to their fortuitous win at Marseille with a more comfortable performance in Moscow.
Ibson, on as a substitute, added a late third as Valeri Karpin’s team snapped a Champions League streak of six defeats and five draws on the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki.
Spartak dominated the first half, with Aiden McGeady, Alex and Ari causing all kinds of problems for the visitors with their guile and quickness of foot.
Evgeni Makeev went close seconds in, sending a half-volley bouncing just wide, while McGeady went close with a rising drive that flew just over the top right.
Alex hit the top of the bar with a sweet curler after great wide-play from McGeady, while Welliton should have used his weaker left foot when he raced through, instead allowing Martin Dubravka to save his finish with the right.
McGeady, who has made a brilliant start to his career in Russia and was in exhilarating form on the right, had a surprise shot deflected wide after another super run down the flank, while Ari fired just wide after a one-two with Welliton.
Zilina were not at the races and, on the half-hour mark, quite how they did not concede was anyone’s guess, after a succession of McGeady crosses saw Welliton miss a bicycle kick, Alex denied by Dubravka and Ari’s header stopped by a desperate gaggle of yellow-shirted defenders.
It was only a matter of time before they took the lead, which came after Alex’s stinging free-kick was tipped over by Dubravka.
The Brazilian took the corner, popping it on to the head of Ari, who looped the ball over the poorly-positioned Dubravka, at fault for the first time as the ball crept over the line.
The second half started promisingly for Zilina with half-time substitute Momodou Ceesay causing all kinds of problems for the hosts with his rangy, direct play.
The lanky Benin forward won an early free-kick after making a nuisance of himself in front of Nicolas Pareja and Marek Suchy, and forced a low save from Andrei Dikan after bullying his way in on the right.
Zilina coach Pavel Hapal had promised a direct attacking performance and, while his side gave nothing of the sort in the opening 45 minutes, the early exchanges of the second period saw the Slovakians in the ascendancy.
Their best chance fell to Emil Rilke who, on 54 minutes, fired wide after being played in by Robert Jez, Dikan doing well to close the angle.
But it was Spartak who struck next, hitting Zilina on the break when a superb cross from Dimitry Kombarov on the left was tapped in by Ari for his second of the night.
That pretty much ended Zilina’s hopes, as Spartak slipped into the keep-ball their Brazilian-tinged line-up demands.
Alex went close when his drive was deflected off Josev Piacek’s knee and tipped on to the post by Dubravka, while McGeady’s wonderful through-ball deserved a better finish from Ari, who blasted over as he hunted a hat-trick.
For Zilina, Ceesay showed some nice touches but they were largely wooden, running out of ideas and easily contained by Spartak.
The Russians saw out the closing stages with patient passing until Ibson added a sweet third, flicking home a slick finish with the outside of the boot from Christian Maidana’s left-wing cross.