Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov bagged a brace as his side secured a 3-0 away victory against newly promoted Mordovia Saransk in the Russian Premier League on Friday.
Zenit remain on top of the table with three more points than surprise second-place team Terek Grozny, while Mordovia linger in 14th place, two from the bottom.
Zenit midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov opened the scoring on 25 minutes, heading in Vladimir Bystrov’s lobbed cross from the edge of the six-yard box after Igor Denisov released Bystrov down the right-hand side of the area.
Zenit were the better team throughout, but some desperate defending from Mordovia stopped the visitors from running away with it early on.
However, Mordovia paid dearly for a defensive blunder on 55 minutes, when Alexei Muldarov headed a long ball from the centre circle into Kerzhakov’s path and the striker sent the ball in a high arc over Mordovia’s goalkeeper David Yurchenko and in.
Kerzhakov struck again on 63 minutes after he was teed up by Roman Shirokov in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper, finishing powerfully from 12 yards.
On Saturday, Rubin Kazan host Terek Grozny, while FC Rostov travel to FC Volga and Amkar Perm face Alania Vladikavkaz away.
Lokomotiv Moscow clash with Spartak Moscow is Sunday’s biggest game, while FC Krasnodar meet CSKA Moscow.
Dan Petrescu’s Dynamo Moscow face his former team FC Kuban and Krylya Sovetov Samara host Anzhi Makhachkala.