Samuel Eto’o and Lacina Traore teamed up for both of Anzhi’s goals as the big-spending Caucasus side went top of the Russian Premier League with a 2-1 home victory over FC Volga on Sunday.
Anzhi lead the Russian Premier League by two points ahead of CSKA Moscow, their closest challengers, after CSKA slumped to a 2-0 derby defeat to Dynamo earlier Sunday.
Guus Hiddink’s Anzhi also extend their club-record winning streak to five games.
For the second game in a row after a 3-2 defeat to CSKA last week, Volga lost to one of the league’s top teams despite testing their opponents for large parts of the match.
Volga stay 15th and in the relegation zone as their winless streak extends to nine games.
Former Anzhi player Roberto Carlos, now a club director, said that going top of the table was a "historic moment" for the club he joined last year as the first of billionaire owner Suleiman Kerimov's big-name signings, in comments on Twitter.
Volga coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev, who hails from Anzhi's home region of Dagestan, has coached Anzhi in three separate spells and was cheered by the home crowd after the final whistle. He said he was pleased with his team's showing despite the defeat.
"We conceded because of a stupid mistake, but we didn't stop regardless, kept playing until the end," he said in televised comments.
Eto’o gave Anzhi the lead in first-half stoppage time, drilling the ball into the net from the edge of the box after Traore played in a pass from the Volga touchline.
Volga responded through Ilya Maximov on 59 minutes, the former Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder picking up a pass from Alexei Sapogov and advancing on the Volga area before squeezing a low shot inside the post.
Anzhi hit back immediately, Mbark Boussoufa and Eto’o combining well to slice through the Volga defense before Eto’o slid in a low cross to leave Traore to tap in the finish.
Volga had their share of opportunities to salvage a draw, with a chance early on when Ilya Kharitonov forced a save from goalkeeper Evgeny Pomazan, standing in as Vladimir Gabulov recovered from an injury sustained on international duty.
Pomazan was hurt soon after in a collision with ex-Anzhi striker Shamil Asildarov, and Gabulov came on off the bench on 15 minutes to put in a solid display.
On 35 minutes, Boussoufa headed a good chance over the bar at the far post off a Kamil Agalarov cross, before young winger Oleg Shatov hit the underside of the Volga bar from a narrow angle just a minute later, the ball bouncing away.
Volga forced their way into the game after half-time and could have equalized before Maximov’s goal when Sapogov picked up the ball in the box, but his shot was weak and saved by Gabulov, preventing Sapogov from extending his record of a goal in each of Volga’s last four games.
Later Sunday, Rubin Kazan travel to David Bentley's FC Rostov.
On Saturday, Spartak Moscow snatched a comeback 3-1 win at Amkar Perm, while late stunning goal by Armenian winger Aras Ozbiliz secured a 2-1 home victory for FC Kuban against Terek Grozny.
Zenit St. Petersburg and Lokomotiv Moscow drew 1-1 in a bad-tempered game that saw both sides lose a player to a red card.
Krylya Sovetov face Krasnodar on Monday, before Mordovia Saransk host Alania Vladikavkaz in a battle between the two newly promoted sides.