FC Zenit St. Petersburg continued their flying start to UEFA Europa League Group G with a comfortable defeat of AEK Athens FC.
Both teams won their opening games 3-1 a fortnight ago but Tomáš Hubočan's spectacular first-minute opener gave Zenit an advantage they seldom looked like losing. Zenit are now three points clear of AEK, who made their 100th appearance in this competition and predecessor UEFA Cup.
Dušan Bajević resigned as AEK coach on Sunday after a 3-1 loss at Olympiacos Volou FC but in the opening seconds of Bledar Kola's reign as caretaker, his team were behind when Hubočan sent in an unstoppable shot from 20 metres for his first goal either for Zenit or in UEFA competition. On 13 minutes it was 2-0, Bruno Alves also opening his Zenit account – against his old club – by meeting Danko Lazović's corner from the left with a strong header that Panagiotis Lagos on the line could not keep out.
At the other end Rafik Djebbour came close a couple of times but it was Nikos Liberopoulos who pulled one back with a looping shot from the edge of the box. However, within six minutes Zenit had a penalty when Cristian Nasuti brought down Vladimir Bystrov after the midfielder had charged down his clearance and Lazović made it 3-1 despite Giannis Arabatzis getting a hand on his spot kick.
Lazović had his second 12 minutes after the interval, applying a subtle finish to a cross from the left by Bystrov. Aleksandr Bukharov's strike was then ruled off for offside but victory was safe for Zenit despite goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev bringing down Nacho Scocco for a late penalty that Pantelis Kafes converted. AEK hope for better at RSC Anderlecht on 21 October when the Russian league leaders welcome HNK Hajduk Split.
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