Apoel fight back for opening win

Gustavo Manduca scored one and created the 75th-minute winner for

Ailton as the hosts recovered from conceding to Konstatin Zyryanov

against the run of play. Zenit were dealt another setback when

Bruno Alves was sent off for a second yellow card with 14 minutes

to go, but they piled on late pressure and might have snatched a

point had Viktor Fayzulin’s shot gone in rather than hit the bar.

The hosts were the first to threaten when Zenit goalkeeper

Vyacheslav Malafeev was forced to punch clear Marcinho’s cross.

Malafeev then parried Ailton’s shot from 12 yards as another of

Apoel’s Brazilian contingent tried his luck. The Russian stopper

was keeping his side on level terms and denied Ivan Trickovski

minutes later. Zenit finally got going, though, and Nicolas

Lombaerts headed Roman Shirokov’s left-wing cross wide at the far

post. But that was a rare moment of adventure for the visitors and

Trickovski drilled an effort wide from the edge of the area at the

other end. The Cypriots continued to dominate after the break and

the lively Trickovski had another shot parried by the over-worked

Malafeev. Marcinho then fired over the top from long range before

Ailton headed over from a Trickovski ball in. But Zenit went in

front completely against the run of play in the 63rd minute. Danny

played the ball in from the right and Zyryanov guided a low finish

into the bottom right corner. Suddenly Zenit were the side making

all the running, Alexander Kerzhakov twice mis-hitting shots wide

in quick succession and Danny having an effort blocked by defender

Paulo Jorge. But within the space of three minutes Apoel had turned

the game on its head. Manduca volleyed home a 73rd-minute equaliser

from the left of the area before setting up Ailton to curl a second

low inside the far post from 18 yards. And things went from bad to

worse for Zenit a minute later when Alves fouled Ailton and was

shown a second yellow card. The Russians poured forward in search

of an equaliser in the closing stages with Danny seeing a shot

saved by Dionisis Chiotis and Viktor Fayzulin crashing a shot

against the bar. Fayzulin then crossed for Lombaerts who headed

wide as Apoel held on for an important win.