Russia's most decorated club Spartak Moscow made ground on the league leaders with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Rostov on Sunday.
The nine-time former Russian champions moved up to 39 points from 19 matches to lie one point behind table-toppers Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg.
Rostov looked more focused from the kick-off, creating a set of scoring chances, strikers Guelor Kanga and Dmitriy Poloz missing close range chances.
Midfielder Vitaly Diakov hit the woodwork with a powerful 20-metre freekick.
After the interval, Rostov again dominated only for Spartak substitute Ghana forward Majeed Waris to score the decisive goal with just two minutes to go firing under the crossbar from Kim Kallstrom's well-served corner.
"It's a precious win not only because we moved closer to the leaders but also because we have not won at Rostov for a very long time," Spartak manager Valery Karpin said. "It was a hard match. It wasn't our season's best match for sure but we managed to win it and that's the main thing about today's encounter."
Another Moscow outfit Dynamo beat guests Amkar Perm 2-0 in the last match before the winter break to take fourth with 35 points.
Dynamo took the lead in the 57th minute through Germany forward Kevin Kuranyi, who scored his third goal of the season with a close-range header from Yury Zhirkov's left-handed cross.
In the 77th minute Kuranyi made it 2-0 for Dynamo with a precise spotkick to secure his team's well-deserved win after Amkar Slovakian striker Martin Jakubko fouled Igor Denisov in the area.
"It was a tough match for us as we played against very well-organised opponents on an uneven pitch," Dynamo head coach Dan Petrescu said.
"We managed to put more pressure on Amkar after the break and scored. After that we kept the play under control and increased our lead later to avoid a nervous ending. We were the better side and won deservedly."
In the day's other match, Terek Grozny took down Tom Tomsk 2-0, with Paldi Bokila giving Grozny the lead in the 20th minute and Ailton Jose Almeida added a late insurance goal in the third minute of added time.
After this weekend, there will be no games in the Russian Premier League until the start of March.