MOSCOW, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Spartak Moscow beat bitter city foes and champions CSKA 3-0 on Sunday to knock them off the top of Russia's 16-team first division on goal difference.
The result left Spartak and CSKA level on 20 points from nine games, one more than third-placed Lokomotiv Moscow and three ahead of Zenit St. Petersburg, who can leap into pole position when they visit Rostov in the evening kickoff.
The drubbing was CSKA's first league defeat of the season and it completed a difficult week for them after a 3-0 defeat by Champions League holders Bayern Munich in their Group D match on Tuesday.
Spartak were in no way flattered by their margin of victory and were denied a bigger win by a string of superb saves from CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Russia's first-choice keeper kept his team afloat for as long as he could but was powerless in the 40th minute, when striker Aras Ozbiliz volleyed home a perfect cross from the left by Argentine defender Tino Costa.
The floodgates opened shortly after the break after Akinfeev had palmed over a header by Yura Movsisyan, who could have had a hat-trick as his link-up play with fellow Armenian Ozbiliz left their markers chasing shadows throughout.
Kirill Kombarov made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute after Brazilian Joao Carlos flicked on a corner at the near post for the midfielder to head the ball into the empty net from five metres, sparking wild celebrations among Spartak fans.
The home faithful had even more to cheer about seven minutes later, when Kombarov beat his marker and floated a delightful cross for captain Sergey Parshivlyuk to head coolly into the far corner past a stranded Akinfeev. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Justin Palmer; )