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Culture news, 04.09.2007 16:53

Zenit Tops League as Rain Dampens Win Over Kuban

zenit_players By Edgar J. Morse

Special to The St. Petersburg Times

Konstantin Zyryanov scored 12 minutes from time to send Zenit St. Petersburg back to the top of the Russian premier league on Sunday at Petrovsky Stadium in a 1-0 victory over Kuban Krasnodar.

In a match as dire as the weather, Zenit looked nervous in front of vociferous support and struggled to get a passing game together, often resorting to long balls and hopeful crosses to break the deadlock.

The first chance of the game fell to Zenit, with a Zyryanov shot from long range and the ball kept low, skidding off the wet surface before striking the post and going wide.

Aside from forcing a few corners, Zenit offered little more in the first half, and it was Kuban which came closest to opening the scoring.

Emmanuel Okoduva, who had a lively game, picked up the ball on the left hand side, made a determined run into the area and from an acute angle fired a powerful shot that Kamil Kontofalsky could only parry.

With the goal at his mercy, Ricardo headed the rebound high over the bar.

The second half saw an improved performance from the home team, whose passing improved despite the wet and windy conditions. Andrei Asharvin put the ball into the back of the net, but it was rightly disallowed for handball as Zenit pushed forward looking for the opener.

Dominguez, who seemed to have spent most of the match dreaming about the sun-kissed beaches he left behind in Portugal, finally picked up the ball on the left right wing, and slipped an intelligent pass into the penalty area to Kim Dongjin.

The Korean squared it to Zyryanov, who struck a powerful first time shot into the net to send the packed stadium into raptures.

Zenit manager Dick Advocaat said he was pleased with the performance in difficult weather conditions.

“If you win, then you are always happy,” the Dutch manager told “But today we are very happy, because I think we played a very good game. We controlled the game from the beginning till the end.”

In other weekend matches, champions CSKA Moscow struck a last-gasp equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw against city rivals Spartak in on Sunday.

Brazilian midfielder Mozart converted a 30th-minute penalty to put Spartak ahead, but Poland under-21 striker David Janczyk scored in added time to prolong CSKA’s 13-game unbeaten streak against their archrivals dating back to March 2001.

FC Moscow stayed in third, four points behind, after beating Spartak Nalchik 1-0.

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