A headed second-half goal from Dmitry Tarasov was enough to give Lokomotiv Moscow a 1-0 home win against ten-man Rubin Kazan on Saturday.
The win lifts Lokomotiv to third in the Russian Premier League after eight games, level on points with second-placed Zenit St. Petersburg and three points adrift of leaders Terek Grozny, while Rubin stay eighth.
Tarasov scored the crucial goal on 52 minutes, beating goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov to the ball after teammate Vedran Corluka flicked on Alexander Samedov’s corner.
Rubin had been reduced to ten men shortly before half-time, when Cristian Ansaldi collected his second booking for a desperate challenge from behind as he tried to recover the ball in the Lokomotiv penalty area.
Lokomotiv had the better of the game throughout as Rubin defended in numbers, but were unable to set up clear-cut chances for Senegal striker Dame N’Doye, their main attacking threat.
N’Doye forced regular saves from Ryzhikov with weak efforts, and burst into the box on 68 minutes, appealing for a penalty after Ryzhikov plucked the ball from his feet.
Corluka saw a goal disallowed on 11 minutes when he struck a fierce shot that was discounted for an earlier foul.
Rubin’s main attacking outlet was their top scorer, midfielder Bibras Natkho, but the Israeli midfielder failed to test Lokomotiv goalkeeper Dario Kresic with many of his set-pieces, although he saw a stinging 20-yard effort parried by the Croatian on 37 minutes.
As in Russia’s 2-0 win against Northern Ireland at the same venue earlier this month, the Lokomotiv stadium’s pitch cut up badly, and home fans protested the state of the turf with a banner.