Kazakhstan Premier League started its second 11-week cycle with some dramatic comebacks and a pair of solid victories on Sunday.
A five-minute flurry in the final quarter of an hour saw Kairat Almaty overcome a two-goal deficit to hand Okzhetpes Kokshetau a harsh 3-2 defeat at the Astana Arena.
Vladimir Mukhanov's men looked sharper and got a comfortable lead through Sergey Strukov's double scored in style between 29th and 68th minute.
Kairat who played without injured Bauyrzhan Islamkhan, César Arzo and Žarko Marković were poor at finishing until Andrey Arshavin launched the comeback with his precise strike from inside the area after Isael's clever assist in the 74th minute.
This proved to be a signal for Kairat offensive unit, with Isael firing past Saša Stamenković just one minute later to finish a massive attack following two decent saves from the busy Serbian goalkeeper.
Bauyrzhan Turysbek, introduced 12 minutes into the second half, placed home Georgy Zhukov's right-wing cross to complete the win that took some pressure off Kairat manager Kakhaber Tskhadadze's shoulders.
Irtysh leave Astana empty-handed
FC Astana enjoyed a big advantage over visiting Irtysh Pavlodar and managed to capitalise on it, claiming two unanswered goals to stop their two-game winless run.
Azdren Llullaku netted from close range after just 13 minutes and Didar Zhalmukan made it 2-0 late in the game to secure points for Astana. The league leaders could have won by a bigger margin if it were not for good goalkeeping performance from David Loriya.
As a result, Astana extended their lead in the title race to four points, having a match in hand on their nearest chasers. Irtysh, for their part, slipped to fifth, seven points adrift of the summit.
Atyrau come close to their sixth in a row but...
Ordabasy Shymkent remained second thanks to a disputable penalty converted by Azat Nurgaliyev five minutes from time in a 2-2 draw at impressive FC Atyrau.
The Oilers, unbeaten in both domestic competitions since Sergey Pavlov took the reins in Atyrau, struck twice after the break via Eldar Abdrakhmanov and Shavkat Salomov in the space of seven minutes to respond to Tanat Nuserbayev's early headed opener.
After the restart, the hosts looked the better side and seemingly deserved to be the victors in their sixth straight outing, however Ordabasy's late spot-kick denied their success.
Consequently, Atyrau sit ninth while Alexey Petrushin's men can feel Kairat on their heels since Almaty club leapfrogged Irtysh and moved up to third and within one point of them.
Ineffective Aktobe suffer a disastrous slump
In their first league match after parting ways with Ukrainian manager Ihor Rakhayev, FC Aktobe showed they are in the midst of the crisis, with Tobol Kostanay beating them 3-1 at the Aktobe Central Stadium.
Although the Red and Whites played atacking-minded football throughout but left stunned by the goals from Alexey Schyotkin, Serhiy Malyi and Raul Jalilov in the second third of the encounter when the game was put to bed.
Yuri Mamute found the net in the 77th minute for caretaker Igor Prokhitsky's Aktobe but the visitors were solid enough to escape with comfortable three points.
With that, Tobol are fourth and Aktobe, having won just once in 10 games, hit rock bottom.
Aidos Tattybayev produced a stunning 82nd-minute volley to seal Shakhter Karagandy's narrow 1-0 home win against Akzhayik Oral.
It was the third goal in last two matches for Tattybayev as the Pitmen got their first home win of the season to climb out from the bottom spot in the KPL table, opening a three-point gap on Aktobe.
"The team made a good gift for Andryusha Finonchenko," noted Shakhter boss Alexey Yeryomenko, meaning the pre-match farewell ceremony in honour of the club's newly-retired veteran Andrey Finonchenko, now Yeryomenko's assistant coach.
10th-placed FC Taraz recorded an inspiring 2-1 comeback win at home to Kaisar Kyzylorda following second-half strikes from Mohammed Diarra and Abzal Taubay.
It was the Wolves who opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time after Maksat Baizhanov smashed in brilliantly a 28-metre free-kick, then Taraz were reduced to ten men on hour mark, Andrey Gorbanets getting his second yellow card for simulation.
Despite performing short-handed, Vait Talgayev's side managed to deliver a turnaround as Diarra headed home a corner-kick before Taubay hit his rebound to give the hosts an important win.
Gameweek 12 details
Okzhetpes Kokshetau v Kairat Almaty 2-3 (1-0)
14/05/2017, Astana Arena (Astana). Att: 500. Ref: Kumashev (Astana).
Okzhetpes (4-4-2): Stamenković – Kuksin, Marochkin (Dairov 64), Chertov, Politylo – Fedin (Dosmagambetov 69), Horvat, Nane, Yurin – Schaff, Strukov (Kozlov 86). HC: Vladimir Mukhanov (RUS).
Kairat (4-2-3-1): Plotnikov – Vorogovsky, Akhmetov, Elek, Suyumbayev – Bakayev, Zhukov (Baltabayev 90+3) – Isael, Iličević (Turysbek 57), Arshavin – Gohou. HC: Kakhaber Tskhadadze (GEO).
Goals: 1-0 Strukov (29), 2-0 Strukov (68), 2-1 Arshavin (74), 2-2 Isael (75), 2-3 Turysbek (79).
YC: Zhukov (42), Fedin (44).
Shakhter Karagandy v Akzhayik Oral 1-0 (0-0)
14/05/2017, Shakhter Stadium (Karaganda). Att: 1,500. Ref: Atazhanov (Shymkent).
Shakhter (5-4-1): Baginsky – Pikalkin, Vasiljević, Kadio, Alimbayev (Stojanović 59), Aiyegbusi – Zošák, Shakhmetov (Tattybayev 69), Stanojević, Mangutkin – Allegria (Tazhimbetov 46). HC: Alexey Yeryomenko (RUS/FIN).
Akzhayik (4-4-2): Tolebayev – Schmidt, Shabayev, Odibe, Omarov – Sergiyenko, Coronel (Chulagov 85), Govedarica, Valiullin (Zarechny 78) – Azuka, Pertsukh (Yersalimov 71). HC: Vakhid Masudov.
Goals: 1-0 Tattybayev (82).
YC: Aiyegbusi (16), Allegria (34), Pikalkin (45+1), Tolebayev (73).
FC Astana v Irtysh Pavlodar 2-0 (1-0)
14/05/2017, Astana Arena (Astana). Att: 8,000. Ref: Gauzer (Petropavlovsk).
Astana (4-2-3-1): Mokin – Shytaw, Logvinenko, Aničić, Shomko – Grahovac, Mayewski – Llullaku (Twumasi 65), Muzhikov (Beisebekov 89), Murtazayev (Zhalmukan 76) – Kabananga. HC: Stanimir Stoilov (BUL).
Irtysh (5-4-1): Loriya – Kislitsyn, Dvali, Tkachuk, Vorotnikov, Živković – Fonseca (Dja Djédjé 71), Aliyev (Zhumaskaliyev 81), Rodrigo António, Kalinin (Shabalin 76) – Fofana. HC: Dimitar Dimitrov (BUL).
Goals: 1-0 Llullaku (13), 2-0 Zhalmukan (79).
YC: Kalinin (27), Fofana (32), Shomko (57), Aliyev (62), Fonseca (64).
FC Atyrau v Ordabasy Shymkent 2-2 (0-1)
14/05/2017, Munaishy Sports Complex (Atyrau). Att: 7,500. Ref: Vishnichenko (Pavlodar).
Atyrau (3-5-2): Pasechenko – Mazhitov (Marov 65), Lobjanidze, Obšivač – Abdrakhmanov (Korobov 62), Kalmuratov, Djokić, Maksimović, Kairalliyev (Salomov 25) – Li, Khairullin. HC: Sergey Pavlov (RUS).
Ordabasy (5-4-1): Nurmukhametov – Tungyshbayev, Yerlanov, Fontabello, Smakov, Bocharov – Geynrikh (Gogua 70), Diakhate, Kovalchuk (Beisenov 87), Nurgaliyev – Nuserbayev. HC: Alexey Petrushin (RUS).
Goals: 0-1 Nuserbayev (14), 1-1 Abdrakhmanov (52), 2-1 Salomov (59), 2-2 Nurgaliyev (85 – PG).
YC: Tungyshbayev (37), Kovalchuk (44), Abdrakhmanov (55), Salomov (75), Pasechenko (84), Nuserbayev (84), Yerlanov (90+1).
FC Aktobe v Tobol Kostanay 1-3 (0-1)
14/05/2017, Central Stadium (Aktobe). Att: 7,000. Ref: Alyoshin (Pavlodar).
Aktobe (4-2-3-1): Otarbayev – Kairov, Aitbayev, Volovyk, Aslan – Shestakov (Baitana 62), Shurygin – Kakimov,Yermachenko (Yuri Mamute 62), Juninho – Cassiano (Zyankovich 62). HC: Igor Prokhnitsky.
Tobol (4-2-3-1): Nepohodov – Zhakupov, Malyi, Dmitrenko, Sartakov (Glavina 76) – Mukhutdinov, Tagybergen (Zharynbetov 63) – Moldakarayev, Despotović, Jalilov (Savić 71) – Schyotkin. HC: Omari Tetradze (RUS).
Goals: 0-1 Schyotkin (41), 0-2 Malyi (48), 0-3 Jalilov (52), 1-3 Yuri Mamute (77).
YC: Tagybergen (8), Baitana (72).
FC Taraz v Kaisar Kyzylorda 2-1 (0-1)
14/05/2017, Central Stadium (Taraz). Att: 5,000. Ref: Rakhimbayev (Almaty).
Taraz (3-5-2): Babakhanov – Shadmanov, Mijušković, Shipitsin – Amirkhanov, Zainutdinov, Diarra, Gorbanets, Kurgulin (Taubay 18) – Mukhametshin (Seidakhmet 56), Feshchuk (Maurice 66). HC: Vait Talgayev.
Kaisar (4-2-3-1): Islamkulov – Chureyev (Zhakhayev 51), Graf, Lamanje, D.Yevstigneyev – Korobkin (Altynbekov 79), Narzildayev – Arzhanov, Baizhanov, Coureur – S.Nikolić (Kukeyev 74). HC: Stoycho Mladenov (BUL).
Goals: 0-1 Baizhanov (45), 1-1 Diarra (69), 1-2 Taubay (74).
YC: Coureur (37), Gorbanets (55), D.Yevstigneyev (90).
RC: Gorbanets (60 – 2nd YC).
May 17 – FC Aktobe v FC Atyrau
May 20 – Tobol Kostanay v Okzhetpes Kokshetau, Kairat Almaty v FC Taraz, Ordabasy Shymkent v FC Aktobe, Kaisar Kyzylorda v Shakhter Karagandy, Akzhayik Oral v FC Astana, Irtysh Pavlodar v FC Atyrau