Zenit reaches CL knockout phase with 2-0 win at Lyon

LYON, France (AP) Zenit St. Petersburg maintained its perfect record in the Champions League this season and reached the knockout phase of the competition with a 2-0 win at Lyon on Wednesday.

Artem Dzyuba scored both goals from a couple of Hulk’s assists as the Russian side produced its fourth win in as many matches, its best start ever in the top continental competition.

Zenit secured its place in the last 16 with two games to spare, leading second-place Valencia by six points after the Spanish side lost 1-0 to Gent in the other Group H match.

Gent is in third place with four points, while last-place Lyon is three points further back.

Dzyuba has recently broken into the Russia team, scoring four goals in a 7-0 win away to Liechtenstein in a European Championship qualifier in September. Since then, he has netted 12 goals in 13 games for Zenit and also scored in the 3-1 win over Lyon last month.

He put the visitors in front in the 25th minute after a long spell of domination from the Russian side. Dzyuba made the most of excellent work from Hulk, who outpaced Samuel Umtiti and left-back Henri Bedimo, then drew goalkeeper Anthony Lopes out before cutting the ball back to the striker, who scored in an empty goal.

Dzyuba’s goal galvanized the hosts, who applied more pressure on the Zenit box but lacked a cutting edge as Lyon missed two good chances to level before the interval.

The first one came in the 32nd minute when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa missed the target from the rebound after `keeper Yuri Lodygin parried away a shot from Maxime Gonalons. Bedimo then smashed a powerful shot against the angle of the crossbar and the post as Lodygin looked well beaten.

Dzyuba extended Zenit’s lead in the 57th minute after another acceleration from Hulk down the right flank of the pitch. He then poked the ball to Dzyuba, who beat Anthony Lopes with a cool finish.

Lyon’s hopes of staging a comeback were dashed in the 72nd minute when captain Maxime Gonalons was sent off for a second yellow card.