Zenit St Petersburg edged visitors Arsenal Tula 1-0 on Saturday to register a second straight win to kick off the new Russian Premier League season.
Oleg Shatov, who spent last term on loan at Krasnodar, struck the only goal on the hour to give Sergei Semak’s men a solid start in their hunt for a first title since 2015.
Elmir Nabiullin won a free-kick out on the left flank, and Shatov’s resulting delivery drifted into the far corner for his first Zenit goal in 15 months.
“It was a very difficult game,” said Zenit coach Semak. “Arsenal are a very skilled team. The score could have been more convincing but I believe it was a deserved win.”
Elsewhere, reigning champions Lokomotiv Moscow played out a goalless draw with city rivals Spartak.
Spartak’s Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano had the best chance to break the deadlock on 70 minutes but Lokomotiv goalkeeper Marinato Guilherme made an excellent stop to keep out his header.
Spartak manager Massimo Carrera said he was pleased with his team’s early-season form ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League third qualifying round clash with Greek side PAOK.
“We looked very impressive in the first half,” Carrera said. “After the break we eased up pressure allowing Lokomotiv to create several threats but we were still the better side.”