European Football - CSKA Moscow pip AVB's Zenit to league crown

CSKA Moscow retained the Russian Premier League title with a 1-0 home victory over city rivals Lokomotiv as they celebrated a fairytale end to the season on Thursday.

Reuters
European Football - CSKA Moscow pip AVB's Zenit to league crown
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CSKA Moscow's players Vasili Berezutski (L) and his brother Aleksei celebrate with the Russian Championship Cup (Reuters)

Zoran Tosic struck early in the second half to secure a 10th successive league win for CSKA, who emerged from the slipstream of long-time leaders Zenit St Petersburg to top the table by one point and claim a fifth Premier League title.

Zenit, guided by former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach Andre Villas-Boas, won 4-1 at Kuban Krasnodar but were left to rue a defeat by Dynamo Moscow in their penultimate match that was marred by fan violence.

"It's a fairytale," said CSKA coach Leonid Slutskiy. "No one could have scripted how this year's championship would unfold.

"Last year's campaign was difficult because we were leading for a long time. This is a lot of pressure. This season we had to catch up and we did this only right at the end of the season, which kept the pressure off us."

"We have a team that is capable of doing anything and that can achieve miracles, even when no-one believes in us."

Tosic struck after the break, the Serbia winger latching on to a mistake by ex-Tottenham Hotspur defender Vedran Corluka and sending a long-range drive creeping into the net off a post.

Lokomotiv, who created few chances, could have levelled in the closing stages when Dame N'Doye's shot hit the upright.

The Army team's spectacular late run of form made sure Slutskiy's side snatched a 12th top flight crown overall including their Soviet Union era successes.

CSKA finished with 64 points from 30 games and striker Seydou Doumbia ended up as the league's top scorer with 18 goals. Lokomotiv came third on 59 points.

Zenit's campaign imploded against Dynamo Moscow last Sunday when fan violence marred a dramatic season finale.

Dynamo were leading 4-2 in the 86th minute when a few hundred Zenit fans invaded the pitch and one of them punched defender Vladimir Granat in the head, leaving him concussed.

Zenit were penalised with a 3-0 technical defeat that took the destination of the league title out of their hands.

"We won today, but we were not in control of our own destiny," said Zenit's Portuguese boss Villas-Boas.

"We lost the championship when we suffered our defeat to Dynamo Moscow and we no longer had the lead at the top of the table. We played some good football in Krasnodar, but that was not enough in the end."

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