Zenit beats CSKA to extend lead in Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — Javi Garcia scored as Zenit St. Petersburg earned a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow on Saturday to go seven points clear at the top of the Russian Premier League.
The Spanish midfielder tapped in at the far post on seven minutes to give Zenit the lead after Axel Witsel nodded on a corner.
Zenit, which last won the league in 2012, has 10 wins and two draws from its first 12 games.
CSKA had chances as Finland midfielder Roman Eremenko tested Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin shortly after halftime, while playmaker Alan Dzagoev could have pulled CSKA level later but shot straight at Lodygin.
Zenit came close to scoring a second but was undone by poor shooting from striker Alexander Kerzhakov, who was also denied a penalty appeal and instead given a yellow card for diving.
The win over second-placed CSKA, the defending Russian champion, also allowed Zenit to bounce back from a disappointing Russian Cup defeat on Wednesday to minnow Arsenal Tula. The St. Petersburg side threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2.
Both Zenit and CSKA have Champions League games next week. Zenit hosts Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, a day before CSKA visits Manchester City.
On Sunday, third-placed FC Krasnodar can move to within one point of CSKA with a win over Mordovia.
Meanwhile, seventh-placed Spartak Moscow’s coach Murat Yakin will attend Sunday’s game at fourth-placed Kuban Krasnodar after being hospitalized with a severe infection.
Kuban could snatch third place with a win, as could Dynamo Moscow, which faces capital rival Lokomotiv on the same day.
On Friday, struggling FC Rostov climbed to 14th with a 1-0 win over Ural Yekaterinburg.