With the top four places in the Russian Premier-Liga already decided before today's final round, FC Zenit St. Petersburg were the big winners as they triumphed 3-1 at FC Spartak Moskva to seal fifth place and guarantee themselves European football in 2009/10.
FC Rubin Kazan were crowned champions for the first time earlier this month, while PFC CSKA Moskva, FC Dinamo Moskva and FC Amkar Perm were assured of the three spots below them with a match each to play. That left Zenit, FC Krylya Sovetov Samara, FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Spartak in contention for fifth spot, a position Zenit secured thanks to superior head-to-head results against Krylya Sovetov – 1-1 at home, 3-0 away – after both clubs finished the campaign with 12 wins, 12 defeats, six draws and a goal difference of +22.
Krylya Sovetov's dramatic 4-3 home win against FC Terek Grozny was in vain as Zenit turned on the style in the capital, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny (2) finding the net before half-time. Although Spartak pulled one back through Aleksandr Pavlenko in the second half, Zenit held on to their two-goal cushion as Dick Advocaat celebrated getting one over the red-and-whites for the first time. "I'm happy with the win," said the Dutchman, "especially as it's my first success against Spartak. In general we've had a good season - we've won a lot of trophies and a number of our players reached the semi-finals of the European Championship [with Russia]."
Zenit, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup holders, return to UEFA Champions League duty at home to Juventus on Tuesday looking for three points to keep alive their hopes of joining the Bianconeri in the last 16. The St. Petersburg club have four points from as many games, two behind Real Madrid CF and two ahead of FC BATE Borisov.
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