FC Lokomotiv Moskva have won the Russian Premier-Liga title after beating PFC CSKA Moskva 1-0 in the winner-takes-all play-off in a sold-out Dinamo stadium in Moscow.
Dmitri Loskov's first-half goal brought Lokomotiv, who are also into the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League, the first league title in their history. The play-off, dubbed the 'golden match' in the Russian capital, became necessary after both clubs finished level on 66 points during the regular season.
In freezing conditions, Lokomotiv made the perfect start when they took the lead on six minutes, Loskvov latching on to a deflected shot from Sergei Ignashevitch and firing a low drive from the edge of the penalty area that took CSKA goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin by surprise.
CSKA poured forward in search of an equaliser but found the Lokomotiv defence in determined mood. The game flowed from end to end but neither side could find a finish to match Loskov's early strike. On 62 minutes, CSKA's Dmitri Kirichenko had an effort ruled out for offside before Bosnia-Herzegovnian midfield player Elver Rahimic saw an attempt well saved by Sergei Ovchinnikov in the Lokomotiv goal.
Lokomotiv then responded with a fine move that saw James Obiorah beat several defenders before setting up Ruslan Pimenov. The Russia forward, who had overcome a hip injury to play, was closed down before he could double his side's lead.
Chance to equalise
There was still time for late drama when CSKA's Rolan Gussev was presented with a chance in added time. After cutting into the box from a sharp angle, he found himself unmarked in front of Ovchinnikov but his shot was tame and failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
The victory for Yuri Semin's men ensured Lokomotiv's first title in the 79-year history of the club. They become the third team to be crowned champions of Russia since 1992, joining serial winners FC Spartak Moskva and FC Alania Vladikavkaz, who took the title in 1995.
We played brilliant football today," said an emotional Semin after congratulating his players. "We've played eight games in 25 days. People were hoping to take advantage of that, hoping we'd be exhausted, but fortunately, we were up to the task, and I want to thank my players for that." While Lokomotiv received the new Russian Premier-Liga trophy, CSKA coach Valeri Gazzaev was left to ponder his second play-off defeat after seeing Alania lose 2-1 to Spartak in 1996.
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