CSKA hold Zenit, Lokomotiv triumph
CSKA Moscow twice came back from a goal down to hold reigning champions Zenit St. Petersburg to a 2-2 draw as the Russian Premier League resumed after the winter break today.
The result left Zenit on top of the table with 66 points from 33 matches, six points clear of the second-placed Red Army side. Dynamo Moscow, who play Anzhi Makhachkala, now under the control of Guus Hiddink, on Monday, sit third on 58 points.
"Both teams played well and the result looks to be pretty fair," said Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti. "My team performed well and we were deservedly leading but CSKA were playing very aggressively in attack."
Zenit got off to a flying start, clinching the lead through forward Alexander Kerzhakov, who scored when the match was just 17 seconds old, firing home from inside the box under CSKA goalkeeper Sergei Revyakin's outstretched hands.
Roman Shirokov missed a chance to increase Zenit's lead in the seventh minute when his close-range header from Kerzhakov's cross hit the woodwork. Shirokov's second attempt on the rebound was blocked by CSKA captain Sergei Ignashevich.
In the 17th minute the hosts pulled level through Alan Dzagoev, who fired in after Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev deflected his initial six-yard header from Keisuke Honda's left-wing cross. CSKA created a set of chances but Côte d'Ivoire marksman Seydou Doumbia and Dzagoev both missed openings to put their side into the lead before the break.
In the 56th minute Kerzhakov had the 5,000 Zenit fans who had come to the Luzhniki stadium on their feet, scoring his second of the match with a volley from the edge of the area from Tomas Hubocan's pass.
But the Red Army side's Nigerian rookie Ahmed Musa levelled again in the 68th minute, sending the ball in after Doumbia and Honda sliced open the visitors' defence with a pair of razor-sharp passes. Honda missed an excellent opportunity for a winner in the 80th minute, when his powerful shot hit the crossbar.
CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said he was upset with the loss of a point. "It was an interesting match but we are slightly upset with the result as we intended to win," he said. "We allowed Zenit too much in the beginning but had more chances in the later stages. Unfortunately we failed to convert them into goals."
Meanwhile, another Moscow side, Lokomotiv, picked up three points, beating Kuban Krasnodar 2-0. Brazilian forward Maicon Marques and Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo were both on target for the railway-backed side.