CSKA Moscow retains Russian football title
KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — CSKA Moscow retained the Russian Premier League title with a last-day win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday.
CSKA prevailed 1-0 at home to take its fifth Russian title by one point, as Zenit St. Petersburg won 4-1 away to FC Kuban to finish second and qualify for the Champions League.
Lokomotiv led the title race for much of the season before its form dipped. It finished third, earning a berth in the Europa League.
Serbian winger Zoran Tosic’s 47th-minute goal gave CSKA the win against Lokomotiv, completing a remarkable season for his team, which was nine points off the league lead in March.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s just such a fairytale,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said. “Thankyou to the people who supported us throughout the entire season.”
After a quiet first half, the game came to life with Tosic’s goal. He picked up a misplaced Lokomotiv pass in midfield and ran at the defense, feinting a pass to striker Seydou Doumbia before stroking the ball past goalkeeper Guilherme.
Lokomotiv striker Dame N’Doye hit the post five minutes from time. Had he scored, it would have handed the title to Zenit.
As his CSKA teammates saluted the fans after the final whistle, goalkeeper and career CSKA player Igor Akinfeev was alone, jumping for joy with a scarf thrown from the stands.
In Krasnodar, southern Russia, Zenit ended a turbulent season with a dominant win in its first game since crowd trouble forced its last match to be abandoned.
On Sunday, its fans stormed the pitch during a game against Dynamo Moscow, forcing an abandonment. One fan attacked Dynamo defender Vladimir Granat.
Part of Zenit’s punishment for that incident was a 3-0 technical defeat for the Dynamo game, a sanction that left Zenit second going into the final day.
Anzhi Makhachkala was relegated after starting the season as a title contender, and Volga Nizhny Novgorod also went down. Tom Tomsk and Krylya Sovetov Samara must contest two-leg relegation playoffs against second-tier teams.