Zenit reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the third time in five years as two Artem Dzyuba goals, both set up by Hulk, gave the Russian side a fourth successive Group H win.
After a quiet opening 20 minutes, the match burst to life midway through the opening period as Zenit – 3-1 winners in Russia on matchday three – started to find gaps in the Lyon defence. Only two excellent saves in quick succession from home goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, both to deny Danny, kept the scoresheet blank – but Lyon were not reprieved for long. Hulk, scorer of a memorable goal in St Petersburg, was becoming an increasingly influential figure and from a trademark burst Zenit took the lead. The Brazilian's acceleration took him past two defenders down the right before drawing Lopes for Artem Dzyuba to slot in.
Lyon, however, had carried a threat of their own and were close to an equaliser on three separate occasions before the break. Corentin Tolisso placed a shot wide of the post before Yuri Lodygin beat out Maxime Gonalons' shot and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa prodded the rebound wide of the gaping goal. The goalkeeper was beaten again moments later by Henri Bedimo's thunderous drive; this time the woodwork came to his rescue.
Zenit had been on the ropes, but they possessed the evening's most incisive attacker in Hulk, and more direct running from the powerful No7 helped the visitors increase their lead just before the hour. The Brazilian again drew defenders to him before poking a pace through for Dzyuba to prod under Lopes despite Tolisso's efforts to clear.
Lyon's already slender hopes effectively ended when captain Gonalons collected his second yellow card of the evening 18 minutes from time, although Zenit also ended with ten men after Aleksandr Anyukov was himself dismissed for a second bookable offence. While Lyon require a small miracle to progress, Zenit's UEFA Champions League campaign will definitely continue into the spring.
Andr Villas-Boas, Zenit coach<br> We used our best weapon – the counterattack. For the first time in this UEFA Champions League campaign we had more possession. We used our strategy to create chances and score goals. Lyon missed chances in the first half and we were a bit lucky. I am very happy we have qualified – it is great for the club and for Russia. Hubert Fournier, Lyon coach
It is very disappointing because we could not make the most of our positive periods. Zenit seized the moment at every opportunity and were excellent on the counter. Having a player like Hulk has to be good for a coach – he is very influential.
News source: UEFA
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City news archive for 05 November' 2015.
City news archive for November' 2015.
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