Zenit will finish first in UEFA Champions League Group H after recording their fifth win in as many outings, a goal in each half from Oleg Shatov and Artem Dzyuba proving enough to defeat Valencia.
Having booked their round of 16 place with victory at Lyon three weeks ago, Zenit again began brightly with Hulk – provider of three goals and four assists in the first four matches – particularly lively. From his pass Domenico Criscito dribbled in from the left and his deflected cross needed Jos Gay's clearing header off the goal line.
Valencia's reprieve was brief, with Hulk again at the heart of the move that led to the 15th-minute breakthrough. The Brazilian cut in from the left and forced the ball through to Dzyuba; one slipped pass later, Shatov was clipping the ball past Jaume Domnech.
The visitors struggled to respond, but could have drawn level twice shortly before the interval – Paco Alccer passing up two presentable openings. First the striker got ahead of the Zenit defence to meet Sofiane Feghouli's cross only to nod wide, before shooting weakly from a Daniel Parejo pass.
Valencia were unable to create similarly clear opportunities as the second half unfolded, Feghouli's flicked header from an Andr Gomes free-kick the closest they came before Zenit doubled the advantage with another slick move 16 minutes from time. Danny played the ball into Shatov and raced on to the return to unselfishly square for Dzyuba to tap in.
The home team remained hungry for more goals, and only a last-ditch sliding tackle from Rben Vezo prevented Shatov breaking clear – at the considerable cost of a red card for the Valencia man. Zenit might have increased their margin of victory in the closing stages, yet had already clinched the points.
©AFP/Getty Images Reaction:
Andr Villas-Boas, Zenit coach
The match started really well for us, a wonderful first half. We played well in positional play and on the counterattack. In the second half there were spells when we were uneasy. But our players are now playing intelligently and it was a great result for Zenit, Russian football and our image.
We've had a lot of difficult situations during the group stage. The main thing is that we won a very important victory at home. In addition, the first away win at Valencia was very important. It set the tone and mood. We are very pleased with the outcome and we'll try to achieve victory in our last match.
News source: UEFA
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City news archive for 25 November' 2015.
City news archive for November' 2015.
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