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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CIS Final Pits Old Enemies

As most soccer insiders anticipated, the final of the annual Commonwealth Cup will involve Spartak Moscow and Dinamo Kiev squaring off Sunday afternoon at CSKA soccer complex.


But the path to the final was far from easy Friday, as both Spartak and Dinamo had to rely on penalty shoot-outs to struggle past Kopet-Dag Ashgabat and Skonto Riga.


In the first semifinal, the Ukrainians had goalie Alexander Shovkovsky to thank for saving two penalties against the Baltic side after the game finished 0-0 in regulation time.


Spartak had a tougher time against the team from Turkmenistan, but Miroslav Romashenko saved the day when he equalized in the 75th minute to tie the match at 1-1 and then scored a penalty in the 4-3 shoot-out victory.


The final pits head to head the only two teams that have won the CIS trophy. The Muscovites were winners of the first three competitions from 1993 to 1995, while Kiev beat the Russian champion Alania Vladikavkaz 1-0 last year.


The two teams have a long and bitter rivalry which goes back several decades. It reached its climax in the late 1970s and '80s when both clubs were guided by Konstantin Beskov and Valery Lobanovsky, coaches who wouldn't take no for an answer.


Beskov and Lobanovsky epitomized the coaching style of the old Soviet system -- dictatorial, with complete control over the players. In those days, such methods often produced winning teams.


In the Soviet era, Spartak won 12 league titles while Kiev claimed 13.


A major factor in the fierce battles between the two rivals has always been the animosity of both teams' fans toward each other. No doubt tempers will be just as hot Sunday, both on and off the field.