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AEK aim for a point against Zenit

Published: Saturday 4 December 2010, 10.05CET
AEK Athens FC's nerves will be jangling as they welcome in-form Group G winners FC Zenit St Petersburg needing only to avoid defeat to reach the UEFA Europa League's last 32.
AEK aim for a point against Zenit
AEK may face a tense evening when they host Zenit ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 4 December 2010, 10.05CET

AEK aim for a point against Zenit

AEK Athens FC's nerves will be jangling as they welcome in-form Group G winners FC Zenit St Petersburg needing only to avoid defeat to reach the UEFA Europa League's last 32.

AEK Athens FC's nerves will be jangling as Group G winners FC Zenit St Petersburg visit the Greek capital. The home side will reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32 if they avoid defeat, but their guests have been in fearsome form.

• A point will be enough for AEK to secure second place in the section. RSC Anderlecht are three points adrift of them in third, but boast a superior head-to-head record, and will supplant them in the round of 32 if they beat HNK Hajduk Split and Zenit win in Athens.

Previous meetings
• The clubs met for a fourth time on Matchday 2, with recently-crowned Russian champions Zenit never looking back after Tomáš Hubočan's first-minute opener, going on to win 4-2. That was AEK's 100th game in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League.

• The sides first met in the inaugural UEFA Cup group stage in 2004/05, with Vlastimil Petržela's Zenit beating Fernando Santos's AEK 5-1 at home. Zenit then eliminated the Greek outfit 1-0 on aggregate in the first round of the following season's competition.

• The teams for the sides' first meeting at the Petrovski Stadion on 21 October 2004 were:
Zenit: Malafeev*, Radimov (Denisov*, 74), Škrtel (Horák, 46), Spivak, Mareš, Arshavin, Kerzhakov*, Šumulikoski, Flachbart, Bystrov* (Vlasov, 81), Gorshkov.
AEK: Michailidis, Bruno Alves*, Kostenoglou, Soares, Petkov (Rusev, 70), Konstantinidis (Kampantaes, 56), Katsouranis, Kontis, Amponsah (Tziortziopoulos, 56), Krassas, Liberopoulos*.

• Both sides missed out on a place in the knockout stages in 2004/05.

• The match was notable for Kerzhakov scoring his first hat-trick in UEFA club competition; he plundered his second in Matchday 1's 3-1 victory at RSC Anderlecht.

• Zenit defender Bruno Alves spent the 2004/05 season at AEK and played a full part in the match.

• The teams for the following year's tie in Athens, a 1-0 Zenit win secured by Andrey Arshavin's goal on 29 September 2005, were:
AEK: Sorrentino, Malbaša, Cirillo, Alexopoulos, Soares, Venglinskiy (Julio César, 74), Ivić, Katsouranis, Kontis, Chanko (Krassas, 83), Liberopoulos*.
Zenit: Čontofalský, Radimov (Denisov*, 86), Vjestica, Mareš, Šírl, Arshavin, Kerzhakov*, Hagen, Flachbart (Spivak, 72), Anyukov*, Gorshkov (Šumulikoski, 90).

*eligible to play in this game

Match background
• Zenit's only other match against Greek opponents ended in an away win at Larissa FC. Thus their record in five games against Greek sides reads W4 D1 L0 (W2 D0 L0 in Greece).

• AEK have played an additional six games against Russian sides other than Zenit, with their overall record in ten matches against Premier-Liga opposition reading W2 D3 L5 (W2 D1 L1 in Athens).

• Zenit last played in the group stage of this competition in 2007/08, when they went on to win the UEFA Cup.

• Zenit have lost only once in nine European games this season and are on a five-match winning streak in Group G.

Team facts
• AEK's next goal will be their 250th in European club competition; this will be their 188th UEFA game.

• AEK coach Dušan Bajević resigned before Matchday 2 in the wake of a 3-1 loss at promoted Olympiacos Volou FC, bringing to an end his third spell at the club's helm.

• Former Sevilla FC coach Manolo Jiménez was named as his replacement on 8 October. Capped 15 times by Spain, he represented Sevilla as a left-back from 1984 to 1997, returning as youth coach after retiring and then taking charge of the first team from October 2007 until his dismissal in March this year.

• Hired as Zenit coach in December 2009, Luciano Spalletti promptly led the club to Russian Cup success, and has now added the national title to his haul. A lower-league midfielder in his native Italy, he was lured to AS Roma after leading Udinese Calcio to a shock fourth-placed finish in 2004/05. He won two Italian Cups in Rome, but resigned in September 2009.

Last updated: 05/04/11 18.18CET

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