Two-time Russian champions Rubin Kazan kept alive their chances of European football next season with a 2-1 win over visiting minnows Saransk tonight.
Rubin moved up to 47 points from 28 matches to stay three points behind third-placed big spenders Anzhi Makhachkala, who face Terek Grozny on Sunday. CSKA Moscow, who meet city rivals Lokomotiv also on Sunday, top the league with 60 points, three clear of reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg.
Turkish midfielder Karadeniz Gokdeniz put Rubin into a seventh minute lead, beating Saransk goalkeeper David Yurchenko with a precise shot from the edge of the box. Saransk forward Ruslan Mukhametshin levelled five minutes before the break when he picked up Igor Shitov's pass in the area and fired past Rubin goalkeeper Sergei Ruzhikov from eight metres out.
But with quarter of an hour left second-half substitute striker Vladimir Dyadyun bagged Rubin the decisive goal when he fired from the edge of the penalty box into the left-hand post.
"We expected a tough match against Saransk, who are very dangerous in the dead ball situation," Rubin manager Kurban Berdyev said. "Luckily, we managed to score an early goal, which helped us to keep the play under control in the first half. After Saransk levelled we were still playing according to our plan and in the end managed to score the winning goal."
Russia's most decorated club Spartak Moscow, who went into the weekend's matches sharing fifth spot with Rubin, drew 1-1 with Samara. Samara midfielder Pyotr Nemov put the visitors into an eighth minute lead, lobbing the ball over Spartak goalkeeper Andrei Dykan with a header from the edge of the box.
Spartak's Czech full back Marek Suchy levelled after the half-hour mark scoring with a header from a well-served corner by Spanish midfielder Jose Jurado.