MOSCOW: Alexei Miranchuk scored the winner as Lokomotiv Moscow maintained their Russian Premier League lead with a 1-0 victory over lowly Anzhi Makhachkala on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Lokomotiv stayed three points clear of Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg, who thrashed newly-promoted Tosno 5-0.
CSKA Moscow, who beat SKA Khabarovsk 4-2 on Saturday, sit third, four points further back.
“It’s always hard to play after the international break,” Lokomotiv coach Yury Semin said.
“But today we looked really good. We scored and played solid football throughout the match. I’m pleased with all of my players’ performances.”
Second-bottom Anzhi started well and forward Alexander Prudnikov hit the woodwork with a close-range header from a 10th-minute corner.
But Alexei Miranchuk, who scored in Russia’s 3-3 friendly draw with Spain in midweek, grabbed what proved to be the winning goal two minutes before the break when he fired home after being picked out by his twin brother Anton.
Lokomotiv held firm in the second half to leave the home crowd frustrated.
Zenit kept up the pace with Lokomotiv by thrashing Tosno in St Petersburg.
“Tosno sat back in defence from the start like many of the league teams that come to play at St Petersburg,” Mancini said.
“It was hard for us to find space in such a situation. But in the second half we looked much, much better.”
Argentinian international midfielder Leandro Paredes put Zenit ahead in the 20th minute with a spot-kick after Oleg Shatov was fouled in the area.
Russian internationals Daler Kuzyayev, Alexander Kokorin and Artem Dzyuba and former Chelsea full-back Branislav Ivanovic all scored after the interval to secure a thumping win.