Two late goals in the space of three minutes from Samuel Eto’o proved crucial for Anzhi as the big-spending Caucasus side broke down stubborn resistance from Mordovia Saransk with a 4-2 win in the Russian Premier League on Sunday.
Anzhi move up to sixth, within two points of leaders Zenit St. Petersburg, while newly-promoted Mordovia remain 14th of 16 teams.
Ivorian striker Lacina Traore opened the scoring on 14 minutes, finishing a move started by Eto’o and applying a powerful finish to a cross from Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez.
Mordovia equalized 11 minutes later in unusual circumstances when the ball cannoned off the leg of forward Ruslan Mukhametshin as Anzhi’s Brazilian defender Ewerton tried to clear.
Anzhi midfielder Kamil Agalarov restored his team’s advantage four minutes before the break, volleying the ball into the top left corner from another Carcela-Gonzalez pass.
The visitors equalized again at 65 minutes when Maxim Rogov scored on the rebound after Anzhi goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov stopped a fierce shot from Serbian defender Aleksandar Simcevic.
Eto’o broke the deadlock with 11 minutes remaining with a headed goal from Mbark Boussoufa, and then broke Mordovia’s resistance with a second, scoring with a placed shot after a cross from Traore.
Earlier Sunday, two goals from Yura Movsisyan were not enough to give FC Krasnodar victory away at Amkar Perm as the hosts recovered to salvage a 2-2 draw, while CSKA Moscow cruised to a 3-0 home win against Krylya Sovetov.
On Saturday, Zenit went down to their first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at home to a spirited Rubin, before Spartak blew their chance to go top when Terek Grozny recovered from a goal down to win 2-1.
Struggling Dynamo Moscow grabbed their first points of the season with a 3-2 win at Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Rostov demolished Alania Vladikavkaz 3-1 at home as Jan Holenda scored a hat-trick.
The sixth round of games ends Monday when FC Kuban host FC Volga.