Zenit maintain lead with Perm win
Zenit St Petersburg maintained their lead in the Russian Premier League with a confident 2-0 win over nine-man Amkar Perm today.
Zenit, the league's only unbeaten side, moved on to 56 points from 22 matches to stay six points ahead of second-placed defending champions Rubin Kazan, who battled back from a goal down to beat visitors Rostov 2-1. CSKA Moscow, who will play at Grozny tomorrow, sit third on 45 points.
Zenit dominated the play but failed to score before the break as the guests' defending spoiled their attacking efforts. Zenit netted the opener in the 49th minute through Alexander Kerzhakov, who sent home a rebound after Perm goalkeeper Igor Usminsky parried Igor Denisov's long-range shot.
Perm defenders Dmitry Belorukov and Vitaly Fedoriv virtually dashed their side's hopes of saving the day as they both were sent off for two bookable offences. In the 64th minute Alexander Anyukov was fouled in the box and midfielder Roman Shirokov added his goal from the spot to secure Zenit's well-deserved win.
"My team played good today," Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said. "Perm were really strong opponents, they were battling tough for every single ball. They did not deserve such a defeat."
Visitors Rostov got off to a flying start in the match against champions Rubin at Kazan. Alexander Pavlenko put Rostov into the lead in the fourth minute sending home a rebound after Kazan goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov deflected his penalty kick.
The hosts replied positively, pinning the visitors back and levelled just six minutes later through Israeli midfielder Bebars Natcho, while Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins netted Rubin's winner.
Russia's nine-time champions Spartak Moscow, who are to play English Premier League leaders Chelsea on Tuesday, experienced few troubles against Alania Vladikavkaz, clinching a confident 3-0 win. Spartak looked in command from the start clinching a 2-0 advantage in the first half through Brazilians Ari and Alex, who scored one apiece within 15 minutes.
After the break Spartak continued their pressing, forcing Bulgarian Ivan Ivanov to send the ball into his own net in the 53rd minute.