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City news, 17.12.2010 11:59

Perfect Zenit pile on the misery for AEK

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE

AEK Athens FC exited the UEFA Europa League after slipping to a 3-0 home defeat against Group G winners FC Zenit St Petersburg.

Needing only a draw to progress, AEK's night started to unravel when Ismael Blanco missed a penalty just moments before Aleksandr Bukharov opened the scoring. Italian midfielder Alessandro Rosina doubled Zenit's advantage with a superb 67th-minute lob and Igor Denisov sealed the win late on. RSC Anderlecht's victory against HNK Hajduk Split means it is they who finish as section runners-up courtesy of a superior head-to-head record against AEK.

Zenit, without Danny and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, looked out of sorts early on so it was little surprise when veteran AEK striker Nikos Liberopoulos registered the first shot on target with a long-range drive. Indeed, the hosts should have forged ahead five minutes before the break when Aleksandar Luković felled Nacho Scocco inside the penalty area. Blanco, though, fired over.

Three minutes later it went from bad to worse when Zenit opened the scoring with their first clear-cut chance. Bukharov raced on to Roman Shirokov's pass and beat AEK keeper Sebastián Saja via a deflection off defender Kostas Manolas.

Blanco almost made amends for his earlier miss on the hour, but his glancing header was saved by Vyacheslav Malafeev. Though substitute Nathan Burns shot over as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, Rosina ended any hope of a comeback when he made it 2-0 with a sumptuous chip after cutting in from the right.

Zenit made extra certain that their 100% group stage record finished intact when Denisov added a third with a sweet, left-footed finish to a neat passing move.

News source: UEFA

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