Russian Premier League hopefuls FC Zenit St Petersburg and FC Dinamo Moskva both kept the pressure up on leaders PFC CSKA Moskva, on a weekend when Celtic FC stole an early march on champions Rangers FC in Scotland.
With the Russian title race back up and running following a four-week break, Zenit and Dinamo made sure to give CSKA plenty to think about ahead of their home meeting with bottom side PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara on Monday. Titleholders Zenit were given the stiffest test as they required an 80th-minute effort from Aleksandr Kerzhakov to prevail 1-0 away against FC Anzhi Makhachkala, who slipped to fifth as a result. Dinamo had a slightly easier afternoon, with Igor Semshov notching twice in a 2-0 success at FC Rostov, leaving them two points shy of Zenit and three behind CSKA.
The new Scottish Premier League campaign is only one match old, meanwhile, but Celtic already enjoy a two-point lead over Rangers after Ally McCoist's defending champions could only draw 1-1 at home with Heart of Midlothian FC on Saturday. That allowed their Glasgow neighbours to make an early statement and they responded with a 2-0 win at Hibernian FC, though it was Motherwell FC who posted the most commanding result of the weekend as they downed Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC 3-0.
Rangers nonetheless fared better than Romanian champions FC Vaslui, who possibly had one eye on Tuesday's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round meeting with FC Twente when they returned to action by suffering a 3-0 loss to UEFA Europa League hopefuls FC Rapid Bucureşti. In contrast, Croatian titleholders NK Dinamo Zagreb got going again by defeating NK Inter Zaprešić 2-0, the first victory of what they hope to be a seventh consecutive title-winning season.
There was also a first triumph this term for FC Basel 1893, Switzerland's top dogs last time out, as they beat Neuchâtel Xamax FC 2-0 in their second match of 2011/12. Their Austrian counterparts SK Sturm Graz are still looking to get going, however, as they were held for the second week running – 2-2 by SV Mattersburg – while SK Rapid Wien and FC Salzburg both won again.
Leading duo FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Dynamo Kyiv were similarly buoyant in Ukraine, Dynamo recording a 4-0 victory against point-less FC Obolon Kyiv to remain two points behind their great rivals after three outings apiece. Over in Denmark, the two clubs who finished first and second last season locked horns in an early joust, and the spoils were shared as titleholders FC København drew 2-2 with Odense BK.
Swedish leaders Helsingborgs IF dropped points as well, with the 80th-minute dismissal of forward Alexander Gerndt not helping their cause in a 2-2 stalemate with Malmö FF. As a result, second-placed IF Elfsborg can climb to within a point if they see off Djurgårdens IF on Monday.
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