MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian soccer season kicked off at the weekend with Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg drawing 1-1 in the capital in front of a crowd of 50,000 and CSKA Moscow and Rubin Kazan both winning 3-0.
Spartak took the lead in the 2nd minute through Russian international Ivan Saenko, the striker hammering home after Vyacheslav Malafeyev in the Zenit goal had only managed to push out a shot from Brazilian forward Welliton.
However, the home side's lead lasted just 15 minutes, former Spartak forward Pavel Pogrebnyak smashing a powerful free kick past the defensive wall to level the score.
Some 500 Zenit fans were detained following the match after a number of flares and seats were thrown.
Reigning champions Rubin Kazan began their defense of the title with a 3-0 home victory over newly-promoted Kuban, Alexander Bukharov scoring twice.
CSKA Moscow followed up a labored 1-0 UEFA Cup victory over Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday with a resounding 3-0 win at Moscow Region side Saturn. All three of the former Red Army side's goals came in the last 21 minutes, teenager Alan Dzagoyev opening the scoring with a well-taken shot from outside the box.
Dynamo Moscow left it late to take all three points in their game against Moskva FC, former St. Petersburg and Sevilla striker Alexander Kerzhakov rising high to head home the only goal in injury time.
This year looks set to see the highest profile Russian Premier League season yet, with the domestic game enjoying the fruits of the national side's recent success. Irish-based pay-TV broadcaster Setanta Sports is set to show 60 Russian Premier League matches in the U.S. and Canada this season, both live and pre-recorded. The season runs through the summer and finishes in November.
Spartak Moscow 1-1 Zenit St. Petersburg
Dynamo Moscow 1-0 Moskva FC
Saturn 0-3 CSKA Moscow
Tom Tomsk 0-1 Krilya Sovetov
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-1 Khimki
Amkar 0-0 Rostov
Terek Grozny 1-0 Spartak Nalchik
Rubin 3-0 Kuban