May 11 (Reuters) - Anzhi Makhachkala were relegated from the Russian Premier League on Sunday, continuing the fall from grace of the one-time big- spenders who previously boasted the likes of Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o among their ranks.
Anzhi’s 1-0 loss to FC Krasnodar saw the team from the volatile Dagestan region lose their top-flight status after a miserable season in which they have picked up three wins from 29 matches.
They needed to win both remaining games to have any chance of survival, but defeat by the beaten Russian Cup finalists ended their hopes of staying up as they sit rooted to the bottom of the table with 20 points from 29 games with one match left.
“We needed to win today, but we could not. We had a lot of chances. We now have the task of trying to get back into the Premier League next season,” head coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev said.
A year ago Anzhi were on the verge of a third-placed finish in the Russian Premier League, dreaming of involvement in European competition and were looking at signing yet more reinforcements in a push for the title this season.
Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov had spent lavishly on players after buying his local club in 2011, splashing out on the likes of Brazil defender Carlos and Cameroon striker Eto’o, and hiring former Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven boss Guus Hiddink as manager.
Russian midfielder and captain Igor Denisov from Zenit St Petersburg and striker Alexander Kokorin from Dynamo Moscow joined later, as did Brazilian forward Willian, with estimates putting his spending on new players at about 230 million euros ($316.40 million).
In 2013 they reached the Europa League round of 16 and the Russian Cup final, which they lost to CSKA Moscow, but after a number of defeats Kerimov cut his financial lifeline, forcing the club to put most of its stars up for sale.
After Hiddink left the club Rene Meulensteen briefly took over, while Eto’o and Willian left for Chelsea as decline took hold, culminating in Sunday’s relegation alongside Volga Nizhny Novgorod.
$1 = 0.7269 Euros Reporting by Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; editing by Josh Reich
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.