CSKA Moscow have edged cross-town rivals Spartak in front of a sold-out crowd at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, continuing the chase for Zenit St. Petersburg to the top of the Russian Premier League.
Given the density in the table, this was the battle for six points. Knowing that, the teams started the game cautiously. Spartak were controlling the ball but lacked creative penetrating passes in the final stages of their attacks, while CSKA showed their teeth in counter-attacks.
The Armymen were the first to break the deadlock. Eight minutes before the interval, Zoran Tosic beat Spartak’s offside trap and slid a placed shot past keeper Andrey Dikan that bounced in off the far post.
Spartak responded five minutes after the restart after Artem Dzyuba delivered a powerful shot from the edge of the box right into the top corner of CSKA’s net. The Red-and-Whites were close to scoring again a few minutes later, but Emanuel Emenike couldn’t take advantage of a one-on-one lunge.
Spartak paid costly for that miss, as Seydou Doumbia restored CSKA’s moments later, tapping in Ahmed Musa’s cross from close range for his 26th goal in 33 games this season.
Spartak denuded defenses in an attempt to level things up, but instead CSKA were closer to scoring their third, but missed several chances to extend the lead.
The victory helped CSKA, who lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League knockout stage last week, establish a four-point cushion over third-placed Lokomotiv Moscow, who seized the spot with a 1-0 win over Anzhi on Sunday. Spartak, meanwhile, dropped to fifth and are now under threat from Rubin Kazan and Anzhi.
“We played a decent, high-quality match,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said. “The score doesn’t reflect what happened on the pitch, bearing in mind the number of chances we had.”
Spartak coach Valery Karpin said the club had practiced defending against the kind of quick counter-attacks that led to CSKA’s opening goal.
“We let one in all the same,” he said. “We played well in the second half before the second goal, but our substitutions didn’t improve our play, that’s why the second half turned out the way it did.”