Defending champions CSKA Moscow defeated visitors Rubin Kazan 2-1 on Sunday to keep their chances of retaining the title alive as well as keeping the pressure on the Russian leaders.
The Red Army side, who recorded their seventh consecutive win, have now picked up 55 points from 27 matches to close within four points of table-toppers Zenit St Petersburg.
CSKA completely dominated play during the first half but could only find the target once after 13th minutes when midfielder Alan Dzagoev fired the ball into the net from just inside the box.
Two minutes after the interval Rubin forward Alexander Prudnikov pulled the scores level with an unopposed 10-metre shot.
But in the 53rd minute, Ivorian forward Seydou Doumbia netted CSKA's winner scoring his season's 16th goal with a precise spot-kick after a Rubin defender fouled him in the area.
"The match was really hard but luckily we managed to win it," CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said.
"But we should have scored a few more goals before the break to avoid the nervous ending. Rubin are a very well-organised team of skilled footballers. They seized the opportunity and pulled back to level but we managed to score the winning goal.
"Now we shall concentrate completely on our next match with Amkar Perm, which we also need to win."
In the other Sunday's match Dynamo Moscow suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the hosts Terek Grozny, which has effectively dashed the Muscovites' chances to finish on the podium.
Terek's Brazilian midfielder Mauricio was the hero of the match as he netted his side's winner firing into the top left-handed corner from the edge of the area in the 54th minute.