Alexander Kerzhakov's first-half penalty gave champions Zenit St. Petersburg a nervy 1-0 win over FC Kuban in the Russian Premier League on Saturday.
It was only a second victory in five matches for Luciano Spalletti's side, who rise from fourth to joint second on 24 points with CSKA Moscow.
Kerzhakov scored on the stroke of half time, converting a penalty after Kuban's Spanish defender Angel Dealbert had handled in the box.
A yellow card for protesting sees Hulk banned for Zenit's next match, an away trip to Alania Vladikavkaz.
CSKA can pull to within two points of league leaders Anzhi Makhachkala by beating Rubin Kazan on Sunday.
Anzhi went five points clear earlier Saturday when Juan Manuel Insaurralde's injury-time own goal gifted Guus Hiddink's side a 2-1 win over 10-man Spartak Moscow.
Later Saturday, FC Krasnodar host Alania Vladikavkaz.