CSKA Moscow will be going into winter break at the top of the Premier League ranks. On Sunday, they edged out Mordovia 2-1, making sure neither Zenit St Petersburg or Anzhi Makhachkala would catch up to them until at least until February.
Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda was the first to put his name on the scoreboard just 14 minutes into the game. He slotted home a rebound after Mordovia goalkeeper Dmitry Abakumov saved a shot from Alan Dzagoev.
Mordovia responded with a goal of their own just before the break, but it was ruled out due to a hard-to-catch offside.
The balance shifted early in the second half when substitute Ruslan Mukhametshin was played onside by Sergey Ignashevich and centered to Anton Bober for a tap-in.
The Saransk side were inches away from taking the lead moments later when CSKA defender Georgy Shchennnikov sliced just wide of his own goal.
But the hosts had the last laugh: First, Aleksey Berezutsky hit the post at 70 minutes, collecting a corner and striking a half-volley from a tight angle. The next attempt saw CSKA scoring what turned out to be a winning goal.
Dzagoev fed Honda in front of goal. The latter sent a no-look pass to the unmarked Pavel Mamaev, who curled the ball into the far corner.
Leonid Slutsky's side now has 43 points with 14 wins in 19 games. They sit three points ahead of second-placed Anzhi Makhachkala, who play Zenit St Petersburg on Monday in the last match before the winter interval.
Terek 1-2 Dynamo Moscow
In the day’s early encounter, Kevin Kuranyi stole the show and put the Muscovites in the upper half of the table for the first time in a season that was rock-bottom during most of the summer.
The German struck twice in Grozny, while Terek could respond only once with Brazilian striker Ailton’s equalizer in the middle of the second half.
On Monday, Rubin Kazan host Spartak Moscow before the match between third-placed Zenit and second-placed Anzhi in St Petersburg.