Terrific Twente stun Zenit

FC Twente coach Michel Preud’homme had played down expectations

ahead of the match by claiming Zenit belonged in the Champions

League and branding his side underdogs. But his players proved

otherwise as a Luuk de Jong brace either side of a Denny Landzaat

effort put them firmly in the box seat ahead of next week’s second

leg in Russia. At 2-0 down, the visitors might have still fancied

their chances at home, but De Jong’s second deep into injury-time

all but killed off their hopes. Twente were familiar with Russian

opposition, having knocked out Rubin Kazan 4-2 on aggregate in the

last round, and they appeared to have the measure of Zenit in the

opening exchanges. The Russian domestic season has yet to get under

way and, although Zenit beat CSKA Moscow in the Russian Super Cup

last weekend, they looked distinctly rusty tonight. Both sides

struggled to carve out clear-cut chances tonight until the hosts

went ahead in the 29th minute. Nacer Chadli sent in a cross from

the right and De Jong guided a finish high into the net from the

far side of the six-yard box. Douglas then headed over from Theo

Janssen’s outswinging corner as the Dutch side looked to press home

their superiority. Zenit responded with several balls into the

Twente danger area, but the hosts’ defence dealt with them

comfortably. Bruno Alves had a shot stopped by Twente goalkeeper

Nikolay Mihailov at the start of the second half before the hosts

doubled their lead in the 56th minute. Alves cleared Janssen’s

free-kick delivered from the left, but the danger was not over as

Landzaat fired a shot across keeper Viacheslav Malafeev and into

the bottom left corner from 18 yards. An away goal for Zenit would

have changed the complexion of the tie, but they rarely threatened

the Twente backline, crosses or shots from distance which were

easily dealt with all they could muster. And instead it was the

hosts who added a third in injury-time, De Jong heading Janssen’s

left-wing cross low into the net to leave the 2008 UEFA Cup winners

with a mountain to climb to make the last eight.