Soccer-Hulk dazzles as Zenit sink Spartak in top of table clash

Reuters

MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Brazil forward Hulk scored one goal and laid on the other three as former champions Zenit St Petersburg beat Spartak Moscow 4-2 in a rip-roaring top of the table clash in the Russian first division on Saturday.

CSKA Moscow, who won the league last season, saw their scoreless streak extended to four matches in all competitions as a 2-0 defeat at Terek Grozny left them five points off the pace in fourth spot.

Leaders Zenit have 26 points from 11 games followed by Spartak on 23 and Lokomotiv Moscow on 22, with the latter at home to struggling Tom Tomsk on Monday evening.

CSKA have 21 points ahead of next weekend's derby against Dynamo Moscow.

Zenit were lethal up front against Spartak but the visitors twice came from behind in front of a jam-packed Petrovski Stadium.

"We are in good form and played quality football today against a very good team," Zenit's Italian manager Luciano Spalletti said in a pitch-side interview.

"We always try to play attacking football and our search for goals paid handsome dividends in an outstanding game."

Brazil forward Hulk, who has been in good form, released Alexander Kerzhakov for the opener with a slick pass which the Russia striker took in his stride before prodding the ball through keeper Sergey Pesyakov's legs.

Swedish midfielder Kim Kjaellstrom levelled with an unstoppable first-time shot from 20 metres before Hulk restored Zenit's lead, unleashing a thunderbolt into the top corner with his weaker right foot from the edge of the penalty area.

HIGHEST QUALITY

Striker Yura Movsisyan equalised a minute later with a fine finish after a darting run and cross by fellow Armenian Aras Ozbiliz but the home team forced their rivals into submission with two top-quality goals in the closing stages.

Promising young midfielder Oleg Shatov capped a flowing move featuring another defence-splitting ball from Hulk when he drilled in a searing low shot to make it 3-2 before Dani put the icing on the cake.

Hulk left three defenders trailing in his wake with a marauding run through the middle and laid the ball on for Portuguese forward Dani who rounded the keeper and rolled it into an empty net.

In Grozny, it needed several good saves from Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev to deny Terek a bigger win over CSKA whose September slump continued with another poor performance devoid of bite and creativity.

Brazilian striker Kanu fired the home team ahead with a calm finish from 12 metres after Ailton got past central defender Sergey Ignashevich and floated an inviting cross for his compatriot.

Igor Lebedenko, who came on as a second-half substitute for Kanu, sealed the win with his first touch of the ball and a spectacular one too, beating Akinfeev with an acrobatic volley after another Ailton delivery. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; editing by Tony Jimenez)