Sunday’s action in the Russian Premier League saw Zenit record their first win of the season. There were stalemates in the other two games though, as champions, Rubin Kazan were held at Spartak Nalchik and FK Rostov and Lokomotiv Moscow also shared the points in their encounter.
12:00 Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 Saturn Moscow Oblast
Because of a tasteless and offensive banner that was paraded at the last home game of season 2008, Zenit’s first home game was ordered to be played behind closed doors by the Russian FA. A huge slur on Russian football legend, Lev Yashin, by Zenit fans was the reason. Last week Zenit fans also set fire to several thousand seats at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
A rare goal by defender Ivica Krizanac opened the scoring for Zenit in the first half, before Marko Topic levelled for Saturn.
In the 67th minute, substitute Fatih Tekke received a great cross on the right and scored with a diving header.
There was time for Anatoliy Tymoschuck to miss a penalty but Zenit held on for the win.
14:30 Spartak Nalchik 0-0 Rubin Kazan
Last week, champions Rubin Kazan thrashed Kuban Krasnodar 3-0 while Spartak Nalchik lost 1-0 away to Terek Groznyi. Prior to kick-off, Rubin were considered favourites.
A crowd of 16,000 at the Spartak Stadium saw a game with no goals as both sides drew a blank.
Rubin are only the third non-Moscow team to win the championship and they can look forward to a UEFA Champions League debut in 2009/10. However, they will be disappointed they did not pick up the three points in this game.
17:00 FK Rostov 1-1 Lokomotiv Moscow
The team from Rostov hosted Lokomotiv Moscow, rounding out the last game on Sunday.
A crowd of 14,500 at the SKA SKVO Stadium saw both teams share the spoils as a 90th minute goal from Lokomotiv’s 22-year-old midfielder Dennis Glushakov cancelled out Branimir Petrovic 40th minute strike.
Both teams have now recorded two draws each from the first two games played.
17:00 CSKA Moscow – Tom Tomsk
CSKA Moscow are one of the favourites for the championship this year and are coached by former Japan and Fenerbahce boss Zico, who has signed a three-year contract. The 55-year-old replaced Valery Gazzayev, who quit the club at the end of last season after steering them to second place in the Russian league and the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.
Zico, regarded as one of Brazil's greatest players, led Bunyodkor to the Uzbek league and cup double in his first season and guided them to the Asian Champions League semi-finals last year.
CSKA have one of the strongest squads in the RPL and top striker and Brazilian international Vagner Love has agreed to stay another year to work under his fellow Brazilian.
Yuri Zhirkov was named Russian Player of the Year in 2008 and there are reports that Chelsea are closing in on a deal for midfielder.
The 25-year-old played an influential role as Russia reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008, too.
Zhirkov's CSKA and Russia team-mate Igor Akinfeev was named as the best goalkeeper while another CSKA player, 18-year-old midfielder Alan Dzagoev, was chosen as the nation's most promising youngster.
CSKA Moscow have already added silverware to the cabinet this season as they won the first trophy of the 2009 season. They beat the reigning league champions Rubin Kazan 2-1 after extra-time in the Super Cup final a fortnight ago.
They will be heavy favourites to beat Tom Tomsk after thrashing Saturn 3-0 last week.
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com