Zenit beat Vladikavkaz to stay top

Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg extended their winning ways in the domestic championship with a 3-1 win at Vladikavkaz on Friday. The result left Zenit on top of the league table with 30 points from 12 matches, seven points ahead of second-placed CSKA Moscow, who play Ramenskoye on Saturday. Reigning champions Rubin Kazan sit third, also on 23 points.

The visitors Zenit came into the match full of confidence and began testing the Vladikavkaz defence from the start. In the 27th minute the St Petersburg side were awarded a penalty kick after the hosts' goalkeeper Dmitry Khomich fouled striker Alexander Kerzhakov in his box. The guests' halfback Roman Shirokov gave no chance to Khomich, firing the ball into the net from the spot.

Zenit forwards Vladimir Bystrov and Danko Lazovic of Serbia were also on target to give their side a commanding 3-0 lead before the break. Bulgarian full-back Ivan Ivanov reduced the arrears scoring with a header in the 78th minute but failed to save the day for his team.

"We played very good in the first halftime and it determined our win," Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti said. "After the break we eased up pressure but were still keeping the playing under control. We were just the better side tonight."

Champions Rubin Kazan experienced few troubles in their home match with Samara, clinching a confident 3-0 win. The hosts Kazan dominated from the start and their midfielder Alan Kasayev lifted them 1-0 up in the 34th minute beating Samara's Chilean goalkeeper Eduardo Lobos with a precise shot into the top right-handed corner. Late in the game striker Alexander Bukharov and midfielder Alexander Ryazantsev added one apiece to secure their team's well-deserved win.

Meanwhile, Russia's nine-time champions Spartak Moscow failed to add three points to their balance, suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of the hosts at Rostov. Rostov midfielder Alexander Kulchy scored the only goal of the game, firing the ball home from the edge of the six-yard bos after a Spartak mixup in defence in the 13th minute.