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Football: CSKA maintain Russia lead, reach Champions League

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

CSKA Moscow maintained their lead in the Russian Premier League with a 1-0 win over Terek Grozny on Saturday, a result which secured a place in the Champions League next season.

The Red Army side stopped their three-match winless streak to move on to 60 points from 27 matches.

CSKA remain three points ahead of second-placed reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg who thrashed 10-man visitors Alania Vladikavkaz 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick by Brazilian striker Hulk.

Big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala battled back from a goal down to beat two-time champions Rubin Kazan 2-1 to remain third on 50 points.

CSKA clinched the lead in the 30th minute through Pontus Vernbloom, who scored from the edge of the six-yard box after a corner by Alan Dzagoev.

"I think we won deservedly," Vernbloom said. "Though we managed to score only once it was enough for the win as Terek had no chances to score today."

"We made another important step for the title and I'm happy to score my fourth goal for CSKA this season."

Meanwhile, Anzhi were trailing 1-0 after Rubin midfielder Roman Eryomenko opened the scoring with just eight minutes to go.

But Ivory Coast substitute striker Lacina Traore pulled Anzhi level four minutes later.

Anzhi skipper Samuel Eto'o netted his side's winner in the 89th minute sweeping Traore's left-handed cross into the net from close range.

"I'm pleased with my team's performance especially at the end of the match," Anzhi manager Guus Hiddink said.

"We dominated the play throughout the match but after we conceded a goal we managed to find enough spirit and power to reply positively and grab the win."

Zenit experienced few troubles against Alania, who were weakened after their Bosnian full back Ognjen Vranjes was sent off for a professional foul on Hulk in the 14th minute.

Hulk meanwhile lifted Zenit 1-0 up with a precise spotkick in the 36th minute.

The 26-year-old Brazilian netted his second in the 64th minute, sending the ball into the net over Alania 'keeper Soslan Dzhanaev from Portuguese teammate Miguel Danny's razor-sharp pass.

In the 72nd minute, Hulk completed his first hat-trick in Russia with a precise shot from just inside the box.

Late substitute forward Alexander Bukharov rounded off the scoring with two minutes remaining.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130504/football-cska-maintain-russia-lead-reach-champions-league