Zenit Holds On to Take Russian Title

ReutersZenit St. Petersburg's players celebrating after Radek Sirl, left, scored the team's winning goal against Saturn Ramenskoye in Moscow region on Sunday.
Zenit St. Petersburg beat Saturn Ramenskoye 1-0 in the last game of the season on Sunday to seal its first Russian title in nearly a quarter of a century.

Czech midfielder Radek Sirl scored in the 15th minute after his low shot was deflected by a Saturn defender into his own net to give Zenit its 10th win in the last 11 league matches.

The St. Petersburg side, which won its only league title in the former-Soviet Union in 1984, maintained a two-point advantage over Spartak Moscow, which saw off city rival Dynamo 2-1 to finish runners-up for the third straight year.

Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko put Spartak ahead midway through the first half and Brazilian Welliton made it 2-0 shortly after the break.

Dynamo pulled one back in the 72nd minute when Spartak's Czech defender Radoslav Kovac inadvertently redirected the ball into his own goal.

Last year's champion CSKA Moscow won 1-0 at Rubin Kazan to claim third place, a point ahead of FK Moscow, which beat Luch-Energiya Vladivostok 3-1 to take fourth spot, its best ever finish.

FK Moscow striker Roman Adamov notched a pair of goals to join Spartak's Pavlyuchenko as the league's top scorer with 14 goals.

At the other end of the table, Kuban Krasnodar was relegated along with bottom club Rostov despite a 3-2 victory at Lokomotiv Moscow, after Spartak Nalchik beat Tom Tomsk 1-0 to stay a point above Kuban.

In Ramenskoye, Zenit controlled the tempo for much of the game, then withstood a nervous finish to clinch victory.

After the final whistle thousands of Zenit fans stormed the fences around the pitch and ran on to the field, clashing with riot police. According to local media, police detained about 50 Zenit supporters after the match.

Zenit coach Dick Advocaat, widely tipped to take over Australia's national team, said he would announce his plans in the next few days.

"I've already made up my mind where I'm going to coach next but you'll have to wait a bit," the Dutchman said.

In other games, it was: Khimki 4, Krylya Sovietov 1; and Rostov 2, Amkar Perm 0.