CSKA Moscow hold on to take Russian title with win over Rubin Kazan

CSKA Moscow fought off a challenge from surprise title contenders FC Rostov to win the Russian Premier League for the sixth time on Saturday.

Roared on by thousands of travelling fans, CSKA held on to an early lead to win 1-0 at Rubin Kazan, knowing that if Rubin had equalised Rostov would have taken the title on the head-to-head record.

Alan Dzagoev scored the vital goal for CSKA with a fierce shot in the 19th minute, and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev preserved the lead with a spectacular double save in the final minutes.

"All those five seconds, [my heart] was stopped," CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said of the double save. "Everything's great."

Both teams could have scored more, with Rubin's Mijo Caktas rattling the bar in the first half, and CSKA's Zoran Tosic hitting the post shortly before the break.

Winning the title could be the last act at CSKA for Slutsky, who has been splitting his time with the Russian national team this season but is under pressure to go full time with Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

It is CSKA's third title in four seasons, all under Slutsky's leadership, earning a place in the Champions League group stage next season.

Runners-up Rostov, who beat Terek Grozny 2-0, go into the Champions League qualifying rounds, while reigning champion Zenit head for the Europa League in third.

That ends a remarkable season for Rostov, who barely survived relegation last season and has maintained a shock title challenge despite severe financial problems. Coach Kurban Berdyev and Iranian star striker Sardar Azmoun are among several personnel already being linked with transfers elsewhere in the summer.

Zenit beat Dynamo Moscow 3-0, with former Dynamo star Alexander Kokorin among the scorers. It was the first relegation in Soviet or Russian football history for Dynamo, the club of Soviet goalkeeping great Lev Yashin.

Mordovia Saransk, who lost 3-0 to Lokomotiv Moscow, werealso relegated. That leaves just six of the 11 host cities for the 2018 World Cup with a top-flight club.

Second-tier sides Gazovik Orenburg and Arsenal Tula won promotion to the Premier League for next season. In playoffs for relegation and promotion, Premier League teams Anzhi Makhachkala and Kuban Krasnodar face second-tier clubs Tom Tomsk and Volgar Astrakhan.