Two goals in the opening five minutes put Borussia Dortmund on course for a pulsating 4-2 UEFA Champions League win over Zenit.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus punished a lacklustre start from the Russian side, who were playing a competitive fixture for the first time since December 11, as last year's runners-up significantly enhanced their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
Oleg Shatov pulled a goal back for the hosts 12 minutes into the second half, only for Robert Lewandowski to swiftly restore Dortmund's two-goal advantage with his fifth goal in the competition this season.
A penalty from Hulk in the 69th minute brought Zenit back within a goal once again, yet the hosts then allowed Lewandowski too much room in the penalty area and the Poland international doubled his tally.
The two sides meet again on March 19 with the Bundesliga side holding a considerable advantage having managed four away goals.
Dortmund took control of the game almost immediately as Zenit struggled to get back into the swing of competitive football.
Reus, starting his first game in three weeks, was immediately on the offensive and jinked his way into the penalty area in the fourth minute.
The 24-year-old could have gone down under the challenge of a defender but instead touched the ball to Mkhitaryan, who swept home.
A minute later the visitors were two goals ahead with Mkhitaryan and Reus again involved.
Kevin Grosskreutz laid the Armenian's right-wing cross into the path of Reus and the latter sent a left-footed volley under Yuri Lodygin.
The Russian Premier League leaders slowly worked their way back into the game, but were initially unable to test Roman Weidenfeller.
With half an hour played Dortmund came close to extending their lead further as Lukasz Piszczek and Reus exchanged passes on the edge of the penalty area.
The ball broke for the forward but his curling effort flew just wide of Lodygin's goal.
After withstanding another strong start in the second half, Zenit halved their deficit through Shatov, although there were hints of offside in the build-up.
Salomon Rondon and Shatov both appeared to be offside when the ball was played into the penalty area, but play continued and the Venezuelan striker hit the post before Shatov fired home.
Zenit were only level for four minutes as Lewandowski played a one-two with international team-mate Piszczek and beat Lodygin with a low strike.
A clumsy challenge by Piszczek on Viktor Fayzulin in the 68th minute saw Zenit awarded a penalty, which Hulk emphatically converted.
Yet Lewandowski offered another quick reply, firing low across Lodygin to seal the win in the 71st minute after Reus had robbed Anatoliy Tymoshchuk inside the Zenit half.
|Coach: L. Spalletti|
for A. Arshavin 15'
for V. Faizulin 84'
for A. Anyukov 84'
|Dardai signs Hertha deal|
|Protester interrupts FIFA Congress|
|Spurs complete Wimmer signing|
|Warner questions charges following release|
|Mexico v Guatemala: Herrera´s men kick off Copa preparations|
|New Zealand no longer supporting Blatter|
|´Post-World Cup trauma´ affected Mertesacker|
|Racing Club 0 Guarani 0 (0-1 agg): Draw sees Paraguayans through|
|Hamburg shocked by Karlsruher attack - Labbadia|
|Serie A Preview: Napoli, Lazio eye Champions League|
|Hodgson will not overstay England welcome|
|Scholes: United must keep Di Maria|
|Leyton Orient appoint Hendon|
|Benteke has a buy-out clause - Sherwood|
|US Soccer will support Prince Ali in FIFA election|
|Dynamo disappointed with officials after City friendly abandoned|
|Calls for Suarez appeal gather momentum|
|Eredvisie Review: Vitesse denied by late Uth goal, NAC Breda boost survival hopes|
|Rangers 1 Motherwell 3: McCall´s men facing uphill struggle|
|Hamburg 1 Karlsruher 1: Bundesliga side escape with draw|
|Blatter vows to lead FIFA clear of trouble as corruption scandal rolls on|
|Bundesliga: Bayern Munich season review - League crown not enough to signal successful campaign|
|Genoa forced to wait for UEFA licence|
|Injured Cardozo out of Paraguay squad|
|CONCACAF provisionally dismisses Webb and Li|
|Klopp: Career highlights of a charismatic coach|
|Verona v Juventus: Ogbonna seeks strong Champions League warm-up|
|FA charges Demetriou over betting breaches|
|Atalanta v Milan: Inzaghi faces last chance to prove worth|
|King joins Bournemouth as QPR rebuild begins|
|Plymouth part ways with Sheridan|
|Hernandez banned for three matches|
|Chelsea star Fabregas has nose surgery|
|Blatter: More bad news may follow|
|Galliani hopeful over Ancelotti deal|
|Frontzeck to continue as Hannover coach|
|Tremmel released as Tate waves goodbye to Swansea|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa: Sherwood out to upset holders|
|UEFA open to boycott of World Cup - Platini|
|Porto activate release clause for Casemiro|
|Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona: Catalans seeking second leg of treble|
|Auxerre v Paris Saint-Germain: History beckons for Ligue 1 champions|
|Cole confirms West Ham departure|
|UEFA elect not to boycott FIFA Congress|
|Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg: Klopp aiming for triumphant farewell|
|Flamini hails Coquelin impact at Arsenal|
|South Africa deny wrongdoing in World Cup bid|
|Benitez confirms Napoli exit|
|McShane among six released by Hull|
|Cerci committed to Milan|
|West Ham expect Collins to return for pre-season|
|Real deny Pogba bid|
|Important to keep Chelsea squad together - Mourinho|
|Alonso: Gerrard was magic|
|Pochettino silent on Ings speculation|
|Visa threatens to ´reassess´ sponsorship amid FIFA scandal|
|Blatter skips FIFA Medical Conference|
|MLS Preview: Revs not out for revenge against Galaxy|
|MLS Review: Sounders go top in West, Timbers and Galaxy win|
|AFC stands by Blatter|
|Matheus ´alright´ after collapse - Markevych|
|Copa Libertadores Review: River, Inter through to semis|
|Signing Toni a ´long shot´ for Adelaide|
|Ramsey good enough for Barca - Coleman|
|Bacuna pushing for Benteke stay|
|Evans stunner settles City friendly in Toronto|
|Banega: Emery a great coach|
|Emery tight-lipped on Sevilla future|
|Argentina finalise Copa America squad|
|Nike issues statement following arrest of FIFA officials|
|Hero Bacca grateful for Europa League triumph|
|Markevych rues defensive errors in Dnipro defeat|
|AFC Champions League Review: Naft Tehran fairytale continues|
|Emery: We deserved Europa League success|
|Dnipro 2 Sevilla 3: Bacca brace sees holders make history|
|South Africa 0 Malawi 0 (4-5 on penalties): Harawa heroics send Bafana Bafana out|
|CONCACAF and CONMEBOL respond to arrests in FIFA scandal|
|FIFA president Blatter welcomes investigations as corruption probe rocks world football|
|UEFA calls for FIFA elections to be postponed|
|BREAKING NEWS: Advocaat exits Sunderland and retires from club management|
|La Liga: Real Madrid season review - Ancelotti pays the price for disappointing season|
|Zambia 3 Ghana 0: First-half spree does the damage|
|Barnes suffers double knee ligament injury|
|Balotelli to stay at Liverpool - agent|
|Kane at the double in friendly win|
|Norwich make Dorrans switch permanent|
|Ings unsure of next move|
|Bournemouth snap up Federici|
|FIFA ´crisis´ cannot continue - Prince Ali|
|Barton headlines QPR exits|
|Juan demands more from Inter|
|Stoke snap up Haugaard|
|Subotic commits to Dortmund|
|Warner pleads innocence after US indictment|
|Napoli to refuse questions on Benitez´s future|
|USDoJ names indicted FIFA officials|
|Wenger coy over Vidal and Benzema moves|
|Suarez back in training ahead of Copa final|
|Pique: I´ll retire at Barca|
|Gerrard ´blown away´ by Liverpool send-off|
|FIFA ´very happy´ with Zurich arrests|
|Liverpool defender Toure targeting trophies|
|Ramsey eyeing title assault|
|Welbeck out of FA Cup final and England matches|
|FIFA the ´injured party´ as Swiss prosecutors open criminal proceedings|
|Prince Ali saddened by FIFA arrests|
|Pellegrini to make City defence a priority|
|Labbadia giving Lasogga, Olic, Jiracek time|
|Ramsey confident on Wembley chances|
|Swiss authorities confirm FIFA arrests|
|El Shaarawy open to Premier League move - agent|
|Reports: FIFA officials set to be arrested|
|Tigres UANL 2 Emelec 0 (2-1 agg): Mexicans through to Libertadores semis|
|Valencia ruled out of Copa America|
|Coleman: Bale being ignored by Real team-mates|
|Ruddy eyes England recall|
|Benteke will strike fear into Arsenal - Westwood|
|Howe named LMA Manager of the Year|
|Casillas reiterates desire to stay in Madrid|
|Dnipro players pay for fans´ tickets, transport|
|Galliani: I want Ancelotti back at Milan|