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City news, 15.02.2008 08:16

Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 Villarreal

Pavel Pogrebniak's second-half strike gave Zenit St Petersburg a narrow 1-0 lead against Villarreal following the first leg of their UEFA Cup last-32 clash in Russia.

Pogrebniak struck the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute following an error of judgement by Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who up until that point had been in fine form.

Lopez looked favourite to clear Andrei Arshavin's through-pass into the Villarreal area but the former Real Madrid goalkeeper, having decided to come out feet-first, missed the ball and allowed Pogrebniak the easiest of tap-ins into the empty net.

That was unfortunate for Lopez who produced a number of fine saves during the match, but it was probably no more than Zenit deserved after creating the better of the openings.

The first decent effort of the match came from Villarreal striker Nihat Kahveci, whose 30-yard free-kick was well-saved by Zenit goalkeeper Viacheslav Malafeev down by the foot of his right-hand post.

Zenit responded with a similar effort of their own, with Anatoliy Tymoschuk firing in a low long-range free-kick that was saved by Lopez, whose head struck the post in the process.

Nihat then had a great chance to give the Spanish visitors a 20th-minute lead when he broke beyond the Zenit defence, but the Turkish striker saw his attempted dink over Malafeev blocked by the home custodian.

Lopez was the busier goalkeeper after that, though, saving from Pogrebniak (twice) and Viktor Faitzulin, while at the other end Guille Franco saw his effort deflected for a corner as the first half finished goalless.

Lopez was back in the action at the start of the second half to deny Kim Dong-jin, who had made the most of a fortunate rebound to race in behind the visiting backline.

The Villarreal goalkeeper will feel he should have done better just after the hour-mark though when Zenit took the lead with what would prove to be the match-winner from Pogrebniak.

Pogrebniak had another chance with 20 minutes to go after cleverly working himself a shooting opportunity, but the Villarreal defence managed to charge the shot down and Zenit had to settle for just the one-goal lead to take to Spain for the second leg.

News source: Футбол

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