Anzhi, Zenit in behind closed doors stalemate
Russian Premier league big-spenders Anzhi Makhachkala drew 1-1 with reigning champions Zenit Saint Petersburg in a match played behind closed doors on Monday.
Zenit were ordered to play two games against the backdrop of an empty stadium in punishment for crowd trouble at a match last month.
Monday's stalemate left Anzhi trailing table toppers CSKA Moscow (43 points) by two points with Zenit in third on 38 points.
Anzhi took a 24th minute lead when Brazilian defender Joao Carlos sent the ball into the net with a seven-yard header from former Chelsea winger Yury Zhirkov's left-wing cross.
Zenit replied positively, pinning Anzhi back but failing to find the equaliser before the break.
After the restart Zenit upped the tempo and began testing the visitors' defence through their Brazilian striker Hulk, who with defender Alexander Anyukov created a chance for halfback Konstantin Zyryanov, who levelled in the 67th minute with a close-range shot.
In the remaining time Hulk was still the most active player an the pitch of Petrovsky stadium but he failed to find the net and received a yellow card for a spirited discussion with the referee with four minutes to go.
The big-money Brazilian signing was playing for the first time since threatening to walk out on the club after an early substitution in last week's Champions League game against AC Milan.
He has since made his peace with club management.
His Portuguese teammate, midfielder Miguel Danny, was red-carded in injury time for insulting the referee.
In Monday's other game nine-time champions Spartak Moscow recorded their first win under their recently-appointed interim coach Valery Karpin, beating Rubin 1-0 in Kazan.
Spartak's Irish international midfielder Aiden McGeady scored his team's decisive goal just before the one-hour mark when he fired home from just inside the area from Spanish teammate midfielder Jose Jurado's left-handed cross.
"Today we just managed to avoid schoolboy's mistakes in defence and it paid off," Karpin said.
"We failed to show the spectacular football but played carefully with discipline and were rewarded for it."
Karpin added that Spartak chiefs will likely announce their decision about his appointment as the club's new head coach in the next few days.
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