Zenit advances in CL despite 4-1 loss in Vienna
Zenit St. Petersburg advanced to the knockout stage of the
Champions League despite slumping to a 4-1 defeat at already
eliminated Austria Vienna on Wednesday.
Zenit finished second in Group G and qualified with a record-low
six points, one clear of Porto, which lost 2-0 at group winners
Atletico. A former two-time champion, Porto will continue in the
Aleksandr Kerzhakov put Zenit ahead in the 35th before Philipp
Hosiner leveled in the closing seconds of the first half. Goals
from Tomas Jun in the 48th, Hosiner three minutes later and Roman
Kienast in injury time gave Austria Vienna the win – the first for
an Austrian team in the competition in almost 13 years.
”We deserved this victory though the scoreline is a bit
flattering,” Austria coach Nenad Bjelica said. ”Zenit didn’t play
at their best but we did well to punish them.”
Before kick-off, Greenpeace protesters entered the pitch
carrying a banner, protesting against Russian oil drilling in the
Arctic by Champions League sponsor Gazprom. Referee Aleksandar
Stavrev of Macedonia interrupted the match for two minutes in the
first half after firecrackers went off and fireworks were thrown
from the Russian fan sector onto lower stands.
Zenit dominated possession from the start but Austria earned the
first chance in the sixth minute when Hosiner was set up by Jun and
forced Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin into a diving safe.
Zenit came close three times within two minutes but Austria
keeper Heinz Lindner reacted quickly to shots from Hulk, Domenico
Criscito and Cristian Anseldi.
Kerzhakov had a goal disallowed for offside in the 29th before
putting Zenit in front six minutes later when he dribbled past
Austria Vienna captain Manuel Ortlechner and goalkeeper
Hosiner leveled with a Low shot in the far corner after loose
defending by the Russians.
A lackluster start into the second half proved costly for Zenit.
Defender Markus Suttner’s low cross from the left found unmarked
Jun in the center, and Hosiner scored his second from a rebound
after Lodygin couldn’t control a thundering 25-meter shot by
Zenit missed midfielder Danny through injury and lacked
creativity to find openings in the Austrian defense.
Coach Luciano Spalletti brought on Andrei Arshavin for
Konstantin Zyryanov in the 63rd but Zenit still created hardly any
danger, apart from a shot from Hulk that went just wide.
Ten minutes after coming on a substitute, Kienast scored from
close range in the third minute of injury time.