Krasnodar took advantage of Russian Premier League leaders Zenit slipping up to keep their faint title hopes alive with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Arsenal Tula.
Second-placed Krasnodar moved to within six points of Andre Villas-Boas’ side thanks to goals from Roman Shirokov, Ari and Ricardo Laborde, but they have plenty of work to do with just four games remaining.
Relegation-threatened Arsenal also saw Vladimir Korytko miss an 87th minute penalty after Krasnodar had turned the screw after the break.
The victory cuts Zenit’s lead at the top by two points after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Spartak Moscow, their third draw in four matches.
Things could have been much worse for Villas-Boas, though, had Hulk not come to the rescue with an equaliser in the final minute, the Brazilian’s 13th of the season cancelling out Romulo’s 48th-minute opener.
Defending champions CSKA Moscow have conceded second place and potential UEFA Champions League qualification to Krasnodar in recent weeks, but they remain four points off Oleg Kononov’s men after a 3-1 win over Ural.
Defeat for Ural leaves them in the relegation play-off places as things begin to heat up at the bottom, with just six points separating the bottom six.
Only two of the side in the relegation battle were able to pick up points in the latest round of fixtures, as Amkar Perm and bottom-club Torpedo Moscow both earned valuable draws.
Amkar were on course to beat Lokomotiv Moscow thanks to a penalty from Georgi Peev, but his dismissal turned the tide in Lokomotiv’s favour and they snatched a 1-1 draw in the fourth minute of stoppage time thanks to Alexander Samedov.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Torpedo had a comeback of their own as they rescued a 2-2 draw against Rubin Kazan with two goals in the final 12 minutes, moving them within four points of safety.
Elsewhere, Dynamo Moscow beat Kuban Krasnoadar 2-1, a late Ablay Mbengue strike gave Terek Grozny a 1-0 win over Rostov and Mordovia Saransk came from a goal down to beat Ufa 2-1.
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