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City news, 27.11.2013 17:18
Zenit salvage home draw with Atltico
FC Zenit ended Club Atltico de Madrid's 100% record in UEFA Champions League Group G with a 1-1 draw at a freezing Stadion Petrovski.
The hosts dominated play, but a disappointing final ball let them down on numerous occasions. They fell behind eight minutes after the interval when Adrin Lpez broke quickly on the counterattack and finished neatly. With little over a quarter of an hour remaining, an own goal by Toby Alderweireld gave Zenit a share of the spoils and a one-point advantage over third-placed FC Porto, who also drew 1-1, with FK Austria Wien.
Luciano Spalletti's side have made a habit of starting slowly in this competition, but for once they enjoyed a bright opening, with the lively Oleg Shatov particularly influential. For all their possession, though, Zenit were having trouble testing Thibaut Courtois, who only had to beat away a fierce drive from Hulk in the first 15 minutes.
Already qualified Atltico were missing a number of key players and were content to sit back and hit their opponents on the break. In the rare moments that the visitors did venture forward, Ral Garca was in the thick of the action. On the stroke of half-time, the midfielder almost scored his third European goal of the campaign, but Yuri Lodygin did well to get down and palm away his right-footed effort from the edge of the area.
Zenit began the second period promisingly, with Hulk once again forcing Courtois into a smart stop. On 53 minutes, the well-placed Aleksandr Kerzhakov saw his tame shot saved and seconds later the Sine-belo-golubye were trailing. Ral Garca's lovely reverse pass set Adrin Lpez away down the left and the forward sprinted clear unchallenged before beating Lodygin to claim his first UEFA Champions League goal.
Ral Garca almost doubled the Rojiblancos' lead a minute later, but his chip from the right of the box sailed over Lodygin and skimmed the crossbar. Zenit were struggling to find any fluidity and their eight-match unbeaten sequence in continental competition at the Stadion Petrovski appeared to be coming to a halt.
However, they profited from a huge slice of luck on 74 minutes. Igor Smolnikov's innocuous-looking cross from the right glanced off the head of the impressive Alderweireld and looped over Courtbois, who seemed to think the ball was floating wide of the far post.
News source: uefa