Zenit St Petersburg win again to make it three from three
Reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg maintained their perfect start to the new Russian Premier League season with a 3-0 victory at home to Terek Grozny on Saturday.
Moscow: Reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg maintained their perfect start to the new Russian Premier League season with a 3-0 victory at home to Terek Grozny on Saturday.
Two early goals from Russian internationals Igor Smolnikov and Oleg Shatov and a precise late finish by Portugal`s Danny sealed a third successive win for Andre Villas-Boas`s men at the start of the season.
The Saint Petersburg-based side -- who`ve won the Russian title in three of the last five seasons -- now top the table on goal difference ahead of rivals CSKA Moscow after a lightning fast start to the new campaign.
The hosts were ahead after just seven minutes at the Petrovsky Stadium. Hulk splintered the Grozny defence on the counter-attack following an error by the visitors` Maciej Rybus before he coolly picked out the unmarked Smolnikov in the area, and he fired home from five yards.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Shatov picked the ball up at the edge of the area -- after another defensive lapse from the visitors -- showed neat footwork and produced a smart finish past Grozny `keeper Yaroslav Godzyur from 10 yards.
Second-half substitute Danny rounded off the scoring in injury time, heading home a pinpoint cross by Shatov to add gloss to the scoreline.
"It was a very, very good game with plenty of chances for us, especially in the second half," said Villas-Boas.
"I think to only score the third goal in the last minute is not fair because we had a lot of opportunities earlier.
"I`m happy both with the result and our performance. And hopefully we will continue like this in the championship," added the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss.
Meanwhile, last season`s runners-up CSKA kept up the pace with Zenit at the summit with a hard-fought 1-0 win over promoted Anzhi Makhachkala at the Khimki Arena.
Brazilian right-back Mario Fernandes scored the Red Army side`s winner with just three minutes on the clock as he beat visiting goalkeeper Yevgeny Pomazan with an angled finish.
CSKA head coach Leonid Slutsky was delighted with the three points ahead of next week`s crucial Champions League third qualifying round return leg with Sparta Prague, but he expressed concern about his side`s fitness.
"We`re not in top form yet and it`s difficult for us to play two matches a week," he said.
"In the first half we squandered too many chances and after the break we had a serious lack of power.
"Luckily, we kept our lead though. Now we desperately need to build up our strength so it`s back to our normal level."
CSKA were held 2-2 at home by Czech side Sparta, who twice came from behind at the Khimki Arena, in Tuesday`s first leg and will likely have to win in Prague on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League play-off round.