Two-goal Hulk buries World Cup draw controversy
MOSCOW: Brazilian striker Hulk scored twice to bury the controversy of being axed from the World Cup draw as reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg cruised to a 4-1 win at Ural Yekaterinburg.
Hulk had been set to feature alongside the likes of compatriot Ronaldo and Samuel Eto'o at Saturday's draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, just days after blasting the country's record on racism in the sport.
However, his removal from the ceremony was attributed to him having to make the 1,000-mile trip to Yekaterinburg for Sunday's game.
As well as his brace, Russian international Artem Dzyuba and Portuguese Miguel Danny were also on target as Zenit went top of the Russian Premier League table.
"At the start, we experienced problems with controlling the ball," admitted Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas.
"But after our first goal we managed to create the scoring opportunities and after that we were the best team on the pitch.
"In general it was a fantastic performance. And of course this win is very important for us as we remained on top of the table."
Dzyuba put Zenit 1-0 up in the 20th minute when he latched on to an Oleg Shatov pass to score past Ural goalkeeper Yury Zhevnov.
Hulk made it 2-0 with a precise penalty half an hour later after Ural skipper Pablo Fontanello brought down Shatov in the area.
In the 67th minute midfielder Alexander Yerokhin pulled one back with a long-distance drive past Yury Lodygin in the Zenit goal.
But three minutes later Shatov found Hulk unmarked on the edge of the area and the Brazilian restored Zenit's two-goal advantage with a powerful shot.
Substitute Danny added the fourth in injury time.
Krasnodar, who finished last season in third place, suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Spartak Moscow.
Armenian international forward Yura Movsisyan netted his team's winner in the 12th minute firing the ball from 12 metres out.
Spartak head coach Dmitry Alenichev reserved his warmest praise for his team's defence.
"We were very organised and disciplined, especially in defence," Alenichev said. "And it was the key to our success today."