Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia fired a 10-minute hat-trick to take his season's goals tally to 22 as CSKA Moscow thrashed Spartak Nalchik 4-0 on Friday to stay in the Russian title hunt.
Brazilian striker Vagner Love put the Red Army side 1-0 up in the 34th minute, but was red-carded 17 minutes from time.
That was the cue for Doumbia's fireworks as the African star hit his quickfire hat-trick in the closing stages.
Earlier in the match, CSKA skipper Sergei Ignashevich missed a 10th-minute penalty when Nalchik Finnish goalkeeper Otto Fredrikson parried his spot-kick.
On Thursday, defending champions Zenit St Petersburg enjoyed a 3-0 win over Volga Nizhny Novgorod to stay two points ahead of CSKA Moscow.
Zenit have 60 points from 29 matches while third-placed Lokomotiv Moscow, who play city rivals Spartak on Saturday, have 53 points.
Zenit grabbed the lead in the first minute when midfielder Voktor Faizulin scored from a well-served corner.
Striker Alexander Bulharov made it 2-0 with eight minutes remaining before the break, firing the ball into the net past Volga 'keeper Ilya Abayev from Sergei Semak's pass.
Serbian winger Danko Lazovic added the third in the 69th minute from the penalty spot after Abayev fouled Bukharov in the box.
"We came into the match with a clear understanding of our main goal and how to gain it," Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti said.
"We scored an early goal, which allowed us to be in control. And I'm pleased that after we scored the second goal my players were still playing with passion. It's a good example of a truly professional attitude."