Villas-Boas' Zenit keeps perfect record in Russian Premier League with late winner over Dynamo

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MOSCOW — Zenit St. Petersburg opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Russian Premier League on Saturday as Igor Smolnikov's 89th-minute winner brought a 3-2 win over title challenger Dynamo Moscow.

Zenit and manager Andre Villas-Boas have won all seven of their league games so far this season.

Dynamo drops one place to third, behind defending champion CSKA Moscow. Both have 15 points.

Smolnikov's winner, struck low off a pass by Danny, denied Dynamo a draw after the Moscow team's center-back Christopher Samba had leveled the score with a header seven minutes earlier.

Dynamo scored the first goal of the game through French midfielder Mathieu Valbuena's fine 18th-minute lob from distance, continuing his strong form since moving to Russia this season.

The lead lasted 10 minutes before Dynamo goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky and center-back Douglas combined for an own goal after Domenico Criscito's shot was saved but bounced off the defender's body and went in.

Zenit then took the lead on 40 minutes when former Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin scored his first league goal for almost a year off a pass from Hulk.

Zenit-Dynamo games have been abandoned twice in the last two years due to crowd trouble, but St. Petersburg's Petrovsky stadium avoided any unrest Saturday.

Earlier, CSKA beat struggling Arsenal Tula 2-1 and now sits six points behind Zenit.

Israeli midfielder Bibras Natcho gave CSKA the lead on 20 minutes with his fifth goal in three games and Roman Eremenko scored a 78th-minute winner after Alexander Zotov had leveled the game for Arsenal.

Lokomotiv Moscow manager Leonid Kuchuk insisted he would not resign after his team was left eighth following a 1-1 draw with Mordovia Saransk.

Managed by Yuri Syomin, who coached Lokomotiv to its last Russian title in 2004, Mordovia took the lead through full-back Marko Lomic but was forced to settle for a draw after Lokomotiv forward Baye Oumar Niasse scored his first goal since arriving in Russia in the summer, hitting a thunderous long-range strike.

Spartak Moscow can match Dynamo and CSKA on 15 points with a win over Torpedo Moscow on Sunday, a day before a meeting of the league's two surprise packages of the season, FC Kuban and Terek Grozny, knowing a win would send either into second place.

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