SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Zenit St. Petersburg ensured it will finish the year as Russian Premier League leader after beating Rubin Kazan 1-0 on Wednesday.
Zenit, hunting its first title since 2012, stretches its lead to seven points ahead of reigning champion CSKA Moscow with one more round of matches to go ahead of the three-month break for the Russian winter.
Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel scored Zenit’s 68th-minute winner in the snow in Kazan, tapping in a cross from Jose Salomon Rondon.
Winger Alexander Ryazantsev hit the post in the first-half with a low placed shot and then struck the crossbar shortly after the break with an effort from range.
Zenit went into the game having lost three of its last four matches in all competitions. Manager Andre Villas-Boas told Russian media he was “very proud” of his team after “a very important win.”
FC Krasnodar had the chance to take second place and keep Zenit’s lead at five points, but could only manage a 1-1 draw in a derby game with Kuban Krasnodar and now sits third. Mauricio Pereira put Krasnodar in front in the first half, before Gheorghe Bucur leveled for Kuban.
Igor Armas put the ball in the net for Kuban on 71 minutes but it was ruled offside.
In other results Wednesday, Lokomotiv Moscow rose to fourth with a 1-0 win over Ural Yekaterinburg, Dame N’Doye scoring a late winner. Torpedo Moscow edged away from the relegation zone with only its third league win of the season, a 1-0 victory over Terek Grozny.
On Tuesday, reigning champion CSKA beat Amkar Perm 2-1, with Finland midfielder Roman Eremenko scoring a second half stoppage-time winner, his second goal of the game.
Also Tuesday, FC Ufa beat bottom-placed Arsenal Tula 1-0.