CSKA Moscow battled back from two goals down to grab a hard-fought 3-2 win at Volga Nizhny Novgorod on Saturday to ascend top of the Russian Premier League table while Brazilian star Hulk opened his goalscoring account for champions Zenit St. Petersburg.
CSKA have 21 points from nine matches, two ahead of Terek Grozny and Lokomotiv Moscow.
CSKA were in command from the start but it was Volga midfielder Ilya Maximov who opened the scoring in the 21st minute, beating goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev with a close-range and sharp-angled shot. Forward Alexei Sapogov made it 2-0 just before the break, sending the ball into the net with a well-struck 25-metre free-kick.
After the interval, CSKA upped the tempo and in the 57th minute, midfielder Alan Dzagoev reduced the arrears. In the 69th minute, Dzagoev scored his second of the match with a close-range overhead kick from Brazailian defender Mario Fernandes's cross. Dzagoev's second goal was CSKA's 1,000th in the Russian championship.
Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa scored the winning goal with four minutes left, sending the ball home with a volley from Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda's precise pass. "My team was sleeping in the first half, which was an unpleasant surprise for me," CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said. "But after the break they woke up, began to play football and we won."
Zenit draws 2-2 with Samara
Reigning champions Zenit St. Petersburg also battled from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw at Samara.
Samara took the lead courtesy of striker Sergei Kornilenko, who fired home from 18 metres in the 10th minute. Paraguayan forward Luis Caballero added a second 15 minutes later, sending the ball into the net from close range past keeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev after a Zenit defensive mix-up.
Zenit pulled one back in the 65th minute when Hulk scored his first goal in the Russian league with a powerful shot from the edge of the area. In the 78th minute, Russia midfielder Roman Shirokov levelled with a six-yard header from Portuguese team-mate Bruno Alves' cross.
Terek Grozny fall 3-0 to Lokomotiv Moscow
Terek Grozny, who were leading the league before this weekend's round of matches, suffered a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Lokomotiv Moscow.
Lokomotiv striker Maxim Grigoriev scored the opening goal from a free-kick by Alexander Samedov just after the hour mark. Nigerian forward Victor Obinna and Brazilian striker Maicon added one apiece to secure the side's win.