Russian Premier League Review: Best ever start continues for Zenit, CSKA lose again
By Football News
Zenit's best ever start to a top-flight season continued on Saturday as they beat Amkar Perm 2-0 to make it five wins out of five.
Zenit are three points clear at the top of the Russian Premier League after their latest victory, which came courtesy of first-half goals from Oleg Shatov and Hulk.
It was the first time Zenit fans had watched their side in the league at the Petrovsky stadium, as the victories against Torpedo Moscow and Ufa were played behind closed doors due to fans storming the pitch during a game against Dinamo Moscow last season.
The first goal arrived with just 13 minutes on the clock and it came in style, as Shatov played a clever give-and-go with Hulk and then drilled home after receiving the Brazil forward's chipped pass.
Zenit grabbed their second eight minutes later, with Hulk this time rounding off a good move.
The former Porto man picked up possession in a deep position, raced forward and then blasted home after an intricate one-two with Danny to ensure Andre Villas-Boas' side head into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off against Standard Liege brimming with confidence.
Champions CSKA Moscow were beaten 1-0 at home by bitter city rivals Spartak Moscow in their previous Russian Premier League fixture and Rubin Kazan ensured they have now suffered back-to-back defeats.
CSKA are six points adrift of Zenit after Rubin secured their first league victory of the campaign with a 2-1 home triumph on Saturday.
The champions made an unimpressive start as the hosts took a 17th-minute lead, when Elmir Nabiullin's looping cross from the left was not dealt with by the visitors' defence and Igor Portnyagin rose highest to nod past Igor Akinfeev.
CSKA struck back on the stroke of half-time as Bibras Natcho converted a penalty against his former team after Ahmed Musa was brought down by Cesar Navas.
Rinat Bilyaletdinov's charges were not to be denied all three points, though, as Sardar Azmoun played a brilliant reverse pass and Gokdeniz Karadeniz coolly slotted under Akinfeev seven minutes from time.
Spartak and Dinamo remain three points behind Zenit after they both secured victories over the weekend.
Dinamo, who were held at home by Apollon in the Europa League on Thursday, cruised to a 2-0 home win over Ural thanks to an Alexei Ionov double, with the visitors' chances of a late comeback effectively ended when Pablo Fontanello picked up a second yellow in the 69th minute.
Artem Dzyuba scored both goals in the first half as Spartak won 2-1 at Premier League newcomers Ufa, who were given hope when Diego pulled a goal back 16 minutes from time but were unable to salvage a point.
Friday's solitary match saw Arsenal Tula, another of the newly-promoted sides, lose 3-0 at Terek Grozny to ensure they are still without a win.
Krasnodar remain unbeaten after winning 3-0 at Torpedo Moscow on Sunday, while Kuban Krasnodar are also yet to be beaten as they edged past Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 despite having Sekou Oliseh sent off in time added on.
The final game of the weekend saw Rostov produce a late fightback to secure their first league victory, with Mordovia Saransk beaten 2-1 at Stadion Olimp 2.