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Rediff.com  » Sports » Zenit win Russian Premier League

Zenit win Russian Premier League

April 29, 2012 16:33 IST

Ten-man Zenit St Petersburg beat Dynamo Moscow 2-1 on Saturday to claim a second consecutive Russian Premier League title with three games to spare.

Luciano Spalletti's team, backed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, only needed a draw in the top-of-the-table clash to clinch a third domestic title since 2007 and fourth in total.

Fans of Zenit St Petersburg celebrate after their team claimed the Russian league championship on SaturdayZenit midfielder Roman Shirokov fired the home side in front on the half-hour and fellow Russia international Alexander Kerzhakov doubled the lead from the spot six minutes later.

Moldova defender Alexandru Epureanu pulled one back for the visitors just before the break but Zenit held on for a deserved win to stretch their lead over Dynamo to 15 points.

Zenit had to play with 10 men for most of the second half after their Russia midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov was sent off after picking up a second booking.

CHAMPIONS CHARACTER

Spalletti was full of praise for his players.

"We had a good team when we won our first title (in 2010) but we were even better this season," the Italian told Russian television NTV Plus.

"This was a tough, difficult season, somewhat unique because it has been going on for a year and a half, but we did everything right.

"We have scored the most and conceded the least goals and we also showed a lot of character to be the champions," he said.

"I can only congratulate my players for a job well done."

Dynamo coach Sergei Silkin believed Zenit deserved to be champions. "Zenit had a better squad and played better than any other team this season," he said.

In Moscow, Serbia winger Zoran Tosic scored twice to lead CSKA to a 2-1 win over city rivals Spartak as the army side leapfrogged their opponents into third place.

CSKA, who recorded their first victory in six matches since they beat Spartak by the same score last month, are now level with Dynamo on 69 points. Spartak are fourth a point behind.

Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o scored twice and set up another goal as wealthy Anzhi Makhachkala, coached by former Russia boss Guus Hiddink, beat Lokomotiv Moscow 3-1 to move into fifth spot with 66 points.

Lokomotiv, who dropped to sixth on 65 points, suffered another blow when their Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko left the game midway through the second half after suffering a leg injury.

"Roman will probably miss the rest of the season," Lokomotiv coach Jose Couceiro said. "As for his Euro 2012 chances, that is up to Russia coaches to decide."

Photograph: Maxim Shemetov

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