ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - Zenit St. Petersburg beat Lokomotiv Moscow on penalties to win the season-opening Russian Super Cup on Sunday.
Italian defender Domenico Criscito scored the decisive spot kick for last season’s league champion Zenit to win 4-2 on penalties following an even match which ended 1-1 after extra time.
Lokomotiv Moscow took the lead in the 28th minute through Baye Oumar Niasse’s low, accurate shot. His teammate Dmitry Tarasov lost the ball in a tackle but stretched to block Luis Neto’s clearance, knocking the ball into the path of the Senegal striker, who applied a calm finish.
Zenit dominated the second half but missed a series of chances and failed to level the score until the 83rd minute, when fullback Igor Smolnikov headed in at the far post after Axel Witsel headed on Hulk’s free kick.
In the last minutes of extra time, Witsel could have won the match for Zenit but the Belgian skewed his shot wide from close range.
It was a third Super Cup title for Zenit, which last won the curtain-raising competition in 2011.
Three years before Russia hosts the World Cup, the 2015-16 season begins with domestic football in turmoil and clubs unsure of how many foreign players they will be allowed to field.
President Vladimir Putin signed a law July 1 giving the government the right to limit the number of foreign players playing for Russian clubs in team sports including football. Putin has said the measure will give young Russian players more chances to develop while stopping clubs from wasting money on overpaid foreign stars.
The government wants to impose a limit for this season but has yet to announce what the limit will be. The resulting uncertainty is hampering clubs’ dealings in the transfer market.
The Russian Premier League kicks off Friday as nine-time champion Spartak Moscow hosts FC Ufa.
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