Ari brace helps Spartak sink Zilina

Brazilian striker Ari’s compatriot Welliton had been the player

Zilina feared the most, after his 16 goals in 17 domestic league

appearances for Spartak this year. But former AZ Alkmaar frontman

Ari was the player who made the difference between the teams,

scoring in each half as the Russians took their points tally to six

from two matches, ahead of home and away fixtures with Chelsea.

Ibson, another Brazilian, added a late third to emphasise the

difference between the teams. Spartak beat Marseille 1-0 in their

opening group game, hinting at their strength, while Zilina were

downed 4-1 away by Chelsea. Although Slovakia recently beat Russia

in the qualifying group stage for Euro 2012, their national

champions have yet not looked up to scratch for this competition.

With pace to spare in their attack, Spartak got in among the Zilina

defence early on. Shots from Aleksandr Sheshukov and Sergei

Parshivlyuk carried threat, while Aiden McGeady’s pace tormented

the visitors. Welliton went close soon before the opening goal,

when his left-footed half-volley was parried out by Martin

Dubravka. Ari made the breakthrough after 34 minutes when Alex’s

left-footed corner from the right found him around 15 yards from

goal beyond the far post, from where he sent a looping header over

Dubravka. Defender Patrik Mraz might have done better but stationed

himself behind the line, and by the time the ball reached him it

had entered the goal, making his prodded clearance worthless.

Spartak pushed for a second goal but it did not arrive until the

61st minute, with Ari again the man on target. Alex swung a fine

lofted pass from a central position to Dmitri Kombarov stationed on

the left flank, and he wasted no time in firing over a probing low

cross which Ari, attacking the far post, swept in from close range.

It was nearly 3-0 in the 75th minute when Alex unleashed a 20-yard

strike which hit Jozef Piacek on its way through to Dubravka,

seemingly close to the defender’s arm, and the goalkeeper pushed

the ball against his left-hand post. Ibson had replaced Welliton by

that stage, and in the 89th minute he condemned Zilina to a second

successive three-goal European defeat with a sweet finish on the

run after Christian Maidana angled in a perfect cross from the

left.