FC Zenit became the first Russian side to win at FC Porto as the Premier League champions overcame their Portuguese counterparts thanks to Aleksandr Kerzhakov's late goal.
Porto were a player short for most of the match after Hector Herrera's early red card and looked as if they might hold out for a point, but substitute Kerzhakov's header four minutes from time meant Luciano Spalletti's team moved above their hosts in Group G ahead of the reverse fixture in a fortnight.
In a lively start, the game turned on one end-to-end movement. Hulk, back at the club he left for Zenit in 2012, broke powerfully after a Porto corner was cleared and was brought down deep in home territory by Herrera, who was booked for the foul. The Mexico midfielder then received a second caution for encroachment from the resulting free-kick, being dismissed six minutes into his UEFA Champions League debut.
Led by Hulk, Zenit threatened to take control of proceedings, the Brazil forward flashing a typical left-foot shot across the face of Helton's goal, but Porto quickly showed they were not ready to lie down. Josu curled in a dipping effort from a free-kick that brushed the top of the net, before Lucho Gonzlez hit a beautiful drive from just outside the penalty area that crashed back off Yuri Lodygin's left-hand post.
While Porto continued to carry much of the attacking threat, Zenit played patiently and sporadically carved out chances. Danny found space on the edge of the box from Andrey Arshavin's pass but scooped over the top, before Roman Shirokov's clever strike curved narrowly wide with Helton beaten.
Paulo Fonseca's side began the second period in upbeat form and the coach continued to be positive as torrential rain drove down, sending on Silvestre Varela for Lic. The Portuguese international winger almost made an immediate impact, dribbling inside past a series of challenges before raking a shot wide.
Hulk then had the best opportunity of the contest so far, in the 57th minute. Nicols Otamendi's slip let in the attacker for a clear run on goal, but Helton dived and blocked superbly at the feet of his former team-mate to divert the ball for a corner.
It seemed as if Zenit might grind the ten men down as time started to run out, Hulk stinging Helton's hands with a fizzing free-kick as he sought to make the breakthrough. Porto almost struck against the run of play as Varela's rasping drive rapped the crossbar, but instead Kerzhakov nodded in Hulk's teasing cross to send the sizeable away contingent into raptures.
News source: UEFA.com
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City news archive for 25 October' 2013.
City news archive for October' 2013.
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