Belgian full back Nicolas Lombaerts produced the decisive first half goal to give Zenit St Petersburg a 1-0 win over Ukraine giants Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League Group G encounter here Tuesday.
The victory lifted Zenit to the top of the table with seven points from four matches ahead of the other Group G tie between Cyprus side APOEL and Portuguese champions Porto later.
Zenit, spurred on by a capacity 21,000 home crowd at the Petrovsky stadium, grabbed the initiative from the kick off, testing the guests' defence seeking for an early opening goal.
But Shakhtar's defence held firm as Zenit's finishing in front of their goal lacked accuracy failing to create serious chances in the opening 29 minutes.
On the half hour Shakhtar 'keeper Alexander Rybka only kept his net clean with a double save deflecting Igor Denisov's shot from the edge of the box and also clearing Konstantin Zyryanov's eight-metre attempt on the rebound.
Nine minutes later Rybka produced another remarkable save when he cleared Alexander Bukharov's header for a corner.
Ukraine's champions fell behind in first half injury time as Lombaerts broke the deadlock sending the ball home with a header from a well-served corner by Zyryanov.
After the interval Shakhtar, who were in a must-win position to keep their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage alive, picked up steam and began testing Zenit in search of the equaliser.
But all of their attacking efforts were to no avail as the hosts defended stoutly stifling the guests attacks.
Zenit midfielder Roman Shirokov missed a clear chance to increase their lead as his shot from the edge of the box went inches off the left-handed post just before the one-hour mark.
Zenit never looked like relinquishing their narrow advantage in the closing stages under the watchful gaze of Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev.