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City news, 04.05.2008 07:44

Football: Advocaat's delight as Zenit book Manchester final date

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat was delighted as his Zenit St Petersburg side reached their first UEFA Cup final after out-classing Bayern Munich with a 4-0 rout in Russia on Thursday night.

Bayern are on the cusp of capturing the German league title this weekend, but they were made to look average in the semi-final, second leg, by a fired up Zenit side as striker Pavel Pogrebnyak grabbed two goals.

Having hammered Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 in the quarter-final, Zenit again over-powered a Bundesliga side and left the German giants reeling with a 5-1 defeat on aggregate.

"I did not count on the fact that we would play so well," said delighted Dutchman Advocaat.

"We hardly allowed Bayern to play, which is the biggest compliment I can pay to the team, today was definitely our day."

After last week's first leg finished 1-1 when an own goal from Brazilian Lucio boosted the Russians, Bayern had to score in St Petersburg to stay in the competition, but never looked like breaking the Zenit defence.

"This is, of course, a catastrophic result for us," said Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

"We lost our composure instead of keeping our nerve.

"This team has given everything, but today was just not our day.

"At this level, you have to exploit every error and take every chance.

"In Europe this season, we have not been as strong as in the Bundesliga."

St Petersburg got the perfect start when Pogrebnyak smashed his free-kick at the Bayern wall and Franck Ribery's leap allowed the ball to fly under his legs into the Munich net after just four minutes.

And things got worse for the German giants when Konstantin Zyrianov - Russia's footballer of the year in 2007 - held off the challenge of Ze Roberto to fire past Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn on 39 minutes to make it 2-0 at half-time.

Both the match and the tie were effectively ended as a contest when Victor Fayzulin headed past Kahn on 54 minutes to put his side on the cusp of their first European final to make it 3-0.

For two of Bayern's stalwarts - Kahn and Hitzfeld - leaving Munich at the end of the season, this was their final European game.

And the Bayern defence did their captain no favours for the fourth goal when they allowed Pogrebnyak all the space in the world to place his shot neatly past Kahn to complete the rout on 73 minutes.

Advocaat's side will now play their first European final when they travel to the City of Manchester Stadium on May 14 to face Fiorentina or Rangers.

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(c) 2000