Spartak inflict Zenit's first defeat

Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg were beaten for the first time this season on Wednesday in a 1-0 reverse at the hands of nine-time champions Spartak Moscow.

Despite the defeat Zenit remain top of the table with 57 points from 24 matches, six points ahead of defending champions Rubin Kazan, who have also played a game more. CSKA Moscow, who drew 0-0 with city rivals Dynamo sit third on 50 points also with a game in hand.

Zenit and Spartak battled for the initiative throughout the first-half but failed to break the deadlock with both lackimg accuracy at crucial moments.

In the second-half Spartak moved up a gear and began testing the visitors' defence but also missed all of their chances before Zenit conceded a penalty when Zenit full back Bruno Alves fouled Brazilian Ari. Midfielder Dmitry Kombarov was on target from the spot leaving Zenit goalie Yury Zhevnov no chance.

CSKA Moscow remained in the race for the title and managed to narrow the gap though they failed to add three points. n the opening half both sides defence dominated play stifling their rivals attacking efforts.

After the interval CSKA upped the tempo and were awarded a penalty after Ivory Coast forward Seydou Doumbia stumbled in the area in the 51st minute. But CSKA failed to take advantage as midfielder Alan Dzagoev's spotkick hit the woodwork, while striker Vagner Love's awkward attempt on the rebound was confidently stopped by Dynamo goalie Anton Shunin.