Zenit draws with Krasnodar, sees lead cut
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Zenit St. Petersburg saw its lead at the top of the Russian Premier League cut to two points Saturday after a 2-2 draw with FC Krasnodar allowed second-placed CSKA Moscow to make up ground.
Zenit was 2-0 down in Krasnodar and on track for its first league defeat of the season before goals from Javi Garcia and Hulk leveled the match and extended the St. Petersburg club’s unbeaten start to the season to 10 games.
Zenit finished the match with 10 men when defender Ezequiel Garay was given a straight red card in the 68th minute for pulling the shirt of Krasnodar winger Ricardo Laborde when he was through on goal.
In televised comments, Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas accused referee Timur Arslanbekov of making “mistake after mistake” and that Garay’s sending-off had been wrong. Despite Zenit’s struggles, the team remains in “excellent form” ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League visit to Bayer Leverkusen, added Villas-Boas.
CSKA had earlier thrashed Kuban Krasnodar 6-0 in Moscow to close the gap to Zenit in a strong showing before hosting Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Ahmed Musa and Seydou Doumbia finished with two goals apiece, while there was also a goal for Finland midfielder Roman Eremenko and an own goal by Kuban’s Igor Armas.
Right-back Mario Fernandes will be an injury doubt for the Man City games after suffering an arm injury nine minutes into the Kuban match. He damaged muscles in his arm but did not break any bones, CSKA said.
CSKA has now won its last five Russian league games, while fourth-placed Kuban sees its nine-game unbeaten start to the season come to an end.
Dynamo Moscow, in third, had been due to play Amkar Perm on Saturday, but that match was called off when heavy snow made Amkar’s pitch unplayable.
The match has reportedly been moved to a spring date because of a lack of space in the calendar before the Russian Premier League’s winter break.
Elsewhere, struggling Lokomotiv Moscow rose to eighth with a 2-1 win over Terek Grozny, which missed the opportunity to take third from Dynamo.
Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the winner with a 77th-minute penalty after his teammate Baye Oumar Niasse managed both a goal for Lokomotiv and an own goal.