Russia won 2-1 away at Moldova to move within a point of securing qualification for Euro 2016.
A second-half goal from Sergei Ignashevich already looked enough to secure victory, but Artem Dzyuba added a second to ensure three points that mean Russia remain favourites to reach next summer's tournament in the battle with Sweden for second place in Group G.
Eugeniu Cebotaru later responded for the hosts, but it proved little more than a consolation.
On Monday, Russia host Montenegro when they will be expected to win. Progress would vindicate their expensive decision to sack previous coach Fabio Capello - reports suggest the Italian received £10.7million in compensation - in July and replace him with Leonid Slutsky.
Russia have now won three from three since Slutsky's appointment in August, and their new-found confidence was again demonstrated as early as the ninth minute when a chance fell to captain Roman Shirokov, whose effort missed the target.
It took until the 58th minute for them to take the lead. Dzyuba chested Dmitri Kombarov's free-kick into Ignashevich's path and the 36-year-old responded by powerfully firing into the back of the net.
Roles were reversed 20 minutes later when Ignashevich headed Kombarov's corner to Dzyuba and the striker bundled in to score his eighth goal of Russia's qualifying campaign.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, Cebotaru scored beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev from close range following Vitalie Bordian's corner, but despite the potential for a nervy conclusion Russia held on to secure three vital points.