Zenit beats Dynamo to stay 5 points clear in Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — Igor Smolnikov fired Zenit St. Petersburg to a 1-0 win over Dynamo Moscow on Sunday to preserve Zenit’s five-point lead at the top of the Russian Premier League.
The right-back charged on to a perfectly timed cross-field pass from Miguel Danny to give Zenit the lead on 17 minutes in snowy conditions at Dynamo’s Arena Khimki.
That proved to be the only shot on target of a drab match in which Dynamo striker Alexander Kokorin was notably wasteful up front despite his team dominating possession. At the final whistle, Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas took to the field with his team to celebrate a win over a traditional rival.
Zenit is now unbeaten in its last five Russian league games, while fifth-place Dynamo has not won any of its last four in all competitions.
Zenit’s league lead was briefly reduced earlier to two points when second-place CSKA Moscow won 4-1 against Arsenal Tula, whose coach Dmitry Alenichev fielded a youth team in protest at a Russian Premier League ruling that Arsenal’s pitch was not fit for play, causing the fixture to be moved to Moscow.
The result was an easy victory for CSKA, whose midfielder Roman Eremenko scored to join Zenit’s Jose Salomon Rondon as the season’s top scorer with 10 goals.
Arsenal’s protest infuriated Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas, who said in televised comments Sunday that the decision to field a youth team was a “disgrace” that could decide the title race on goal difference if Zenit and CSKA finished the season level on points.
FC Krasnodar ends the weekend in third place, five points behind CSKA, after beating relegation-threatened FC Ufa 2-0 on Friday.
Rubin Kazan sits fourth following a 2-0 win over bottom club FC Rostov on Saturday, while sixth-place Spartak Moscow is also in contention to qualify for Europe after beating Torpedo Moscow 1-0.
Also, Ural Yekaterinburg beat fellow relegation contender Amkar Perm 1-0 on Saturday, while Sunday saw a goalless draw between Lokomotiv Moscow and Mordovia Saransk before Kuban Krasnodar defeated Terek Grozny 1-0.