Match Report from Zenit's treble-winning match against Baltika

Zenit secured their sixth Russian Cup and the first domestic treble in Russian football history after defeating Baltika 2-1 Sunday at Luzhniki Stadium.

Match Report from Zenit's treble-winning match against Baltika

Zenit claimed their sixth consecutive league title on Saturday, 25 May, with a 2-1 comeback victory against Rostov in their 30th and final match of the Russian Premier Liga (RPL) season.

Zenit's previous meeting on 7 April against Baltika at the Gazprom Arena saw the blue-white-sky blues emerge victorious with a 1-0 triumph. Pedro put the home side ahead in the 42nd minute when he buried defender Vyacheslav Karavayev's low cross from the right flank.

Zenit clinched their fifth Russian Cup title in 2020 by defeating Khimki 1-0 in the final. The blue-white-sky blues also won the competition in 1944, 1999, 2010, and 2016.

Baltika came close to scoring in the eighth minute on a counterattack as Roberto Fernandez chipped the ball past Zenit's goalkeeper Denis Adamov, but defender Nuraly Alip made a crucial clearance on the goal line.

Claudinho sprinted down the right flank and found Ivan Sergeev inside Baltika's penalty area. The Russian striker, with a perfect opportunity to put his side ahead after Baltika's strong start, missed the target wide of the left post. 

After a lacklustre opening 20 minutes, Zenit turned the tide and began applying pressure on Baltika's goal. In the 23rd minute, Wendel attempted to find the back of the net with a low curving shot, only for Evgeny Latyshonok to make the stop. Two minutes later, Pedro shot at goal, but it was saved too.

Artur executed his trademark move, cutting to the left while operating on the right side during a Zenit counterattack in the 34th minute, though his long-range effort sailed wide of the far-left post. The Brazilian rose to the occasion in Zenit's last game against Rostov, scoring the match-winner and title-clinching goal in the 85th minute.

With just under 10 minutes to play in the opening half, Mateo Cassierra received Claudinho's pass in the Baltika penalty area. The Colombian striker moved to the right and attempted a low shot, but Latyshonok was there to make the diving stop.

Despite being the stronger of the two teams in the latter stages of the first half, Zenit went down a goal in the 40th minute after Baltika's Vitali Lisakovich played the ball to Danila Kozlov inside the Zenit 18-yard box. Kozlov then made a low cross to Alex Fernandes. With an empty side of the net, Fernandes slotted the ball into the Zenit goal, securing Baltika's lead going into halftime.

Kozlov nearly doubled his side's lead early in the second half when he created space in the Zenit penalty area and took a right-footed shot. The ball deflected off the near right post after Adamov expertly saved it.

Latyshonok made an incredible save of his own with a one-handed stop when Artur attempted a powerful volley into the centre of the goal. It was just one of the numerous goal-scoring opportunities Zenit created in the second half, as the blue-white-sky blues heavily pressed Baltika in their final third in an effort to tie the score. 

In the 66th minute, Wendel received a pass from Gustavo Mantuan outside the box. He then rolled the ball into the penalty area and fired a shot, which found the bottom right corner. However, after a VAR check, it was determined that Aleksandr Erokhin had committed a foul on a Baltika defender before Wendel's equaliser. As a result, referee Karasev ruled out the goal.

Latyshonok parried Karavayev's shot following a Zenit corner kick that found the Russian defender. However, Nino capitalised on the rebound as the ball landed in front of Baltika's net, equalising the game at 1-1 in the 81st minute. It marked the Brazilian's first goal in his Zenit career.

In the fifth minute of added time, substitute Andrey Mostovoy found Alip inside the six-yard box with a cross from the left flank. The Kazakh defender left Latyshonok frozen as he headed the ball into the far-right corner of the net, giving his side a 2-1 lead and the victory to win the Russian Cup.

Today's remarkable comeback win for Sergei Semak's team marks the historic achievement of securing the first-ever domestic treble in professional Russian football history. Zenit defeated CSKA Moscow 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw on 15 July 2023 in the Russian Super Cup final and secured back-to-back victories to clinch the RPL title and Russian Cup. The 2024 Russian Cup is the 29th trophy in club history.

Zenit will now face Krasnodar in the 2024 Russian Super Cup final on 13 July.