Reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg battled back from a goal down to beat 10-man Dynamo Moscow 2-1 and make a winning start in the new Russian Premier League campaign on Sunday.
Brazilian Hulk, last season’s Premier League top scorer and midfielder Oleg Shatov netted one apiece to set Zenit on their way to a hard-fought win, while Alexander Kokorin was on target for Dynamo.
“The sending off, of course, was the key moment” – Andre Villas-Boas
“I think that the goal that we conceded came against the run of the play,” Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
“But today we were the better team. We managed to recover to win the penalty and the sending off (of Dynamo defender Tomas Hubocan), of course, was the key moment in the game. .
“After the break we were in trouble on occasions as Dynamo were really effective on the counter-attack.
“When you have a one-man advantage you attack more, you relax and sometimes you lose positional awareness. This win is very important for us.”
Russian international forward Kokorin put Dynamo 1-0 up just before the half-hour mark, beating ‘keeper Yury Lodygin from just inside the area after a cross from the right by Alexei Ionov.
Hulk levelled the scores from the penalty spot a minute before the break after Artem Dzyuba was brought down in the box by Hubocan, who received a straight red card.
Zenit soon made Dynamo pay when, in the 68th minute, Hulk found the unmarked Shatov in the area and he kept his cool to fire past visiting ‘keeper Vladimir Gabulov from the edge of the six-yard box.
Lokomotiv Moskow beat Mordovia Saransk
Elsewhere, two-time former champions Lokomotiv Moscow won 1-0 at Mordovia Saransk.
Serbian forward Petar Skuletic scored the winner just before the hour mark with a header following Roman Shishkin’s cross.