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

Europa League.

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

Lindner.

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

Florian Mader.

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.