Moscow, July 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A brace from Alexander Kerzhakov helped reigning Russian football champions Zenit St. Petersburg open their title defence with a 2-0 defeat of Amkar Perm Sunday.
Kerzhakov, criticized for poor performances at Euro 2012 with the Russian national team, hit a goal in each half to put his troubles behind him and register the club's 21st-consecutive opening win.
He stroked confidently into the corner on 37 minutes after Roman Shirokov's through ball, and doubled the lead on the hour mark from the penalty spot after Sergei Semak was fouled by Amkar's Konstantin Vasilyev.
"We were up against really strong opponents," Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said.
"Before Kerzhakov scored, Amkar felt very comfortable and made life difficult for us."
It was a seventh time in the last nine encounters that Amkar have failed to score against Zenit.
"I liked the first half," Amkar coach Nikolai Trubachev said. "In the second half, Zenit stepped it up. Zenit are just Zenit, what can you say?"
Amkar, playing away against the title holders, didn't hold back, attacking boldly and creating several good opportunities in the opening half.
The game was attended by former England boss Fabio Capello, who has agreed to take over Russia team on a two-year deal and is expected to sign the contract next week.