Zenit St. Petersburg's Portuguese midfielder Danny struck in the 66th minute to give the 2007 champions three points in their opening game of the season against Krilya Sovetov in Samara on Saturday.
Danny, who missed much of the 2009 season though injury, ran onto a ball from Russian international Vladimir Bystrov to give Zenit's new Italian coach, Luciano Spalletti the perfect start to life in Russia.
Financial difficulties meant that Krilya Sovetov fielded a weakened side made up largely of reserve team players.
Zenit's 1-0 win follows on from CSKA Moscow's home victory over Amkar Perm by a similar scoreline on Friday evening.
In the remaining matches of the new season's opening weekend, Dagestan's Anzhi, back in the top division for the first time since 2002, welcome fellow North Caucasus side Spartak Nalchik, while Rostov are at home against Tom Tomsk, who almost went to the wall last season.
Sunday's games see champions Rubin take on Lokomotiv Moscow in Kazan and Spartak Moscow host Dynamo in a cross-town derby.
Newly-promoted Sibir, from west Siberia's Novosibirsk, kick off their campaign with a home match against Chechnya's Terek Grozny, while Alaniya Vladikavkaz, promoted to the elite after FC Moskva folded, welcome Moscow Region side Saturn.
MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti)