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Málaga seal top spot and end Zenit hopes

Published: Wednesday 21 November 2012, 20.10CET
FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-2 Málaga CF
Zenit came from two down to secure a draw against the Group C winners, but AC Milan's subsequent triumph means their last-16 ambitions are over.
by Richard van Poortvliet
from Stadion Petrovski

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Published: Wednesday 21 November 2012, 20.10CET

Málaga seal top spot and end Zenit hopes

FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-2 Málaga CF
Zenit came from two down to secure a draw against the Group C winners, but AC Milan's subsequent triumph means their last-16 ambitions are over.

Málaga CF wrapped up top spot in Group C with a 2-2 draw at FC Zenit St Petersburg, ultimately ending the Russian side's own chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Málaga, already through, rested a number of players but nevertheless got off to a fine start and were 2-0 up inside nine minutes thanks to goals from Diego Buonanotte and Seba. Though Zenit were below par for long periods, Danny's strike just after half-time reduced the deficit and Viktor Fayzulin scored a late equaliser. They remain bottom of the section and AC Milan's victory over RSC Anderlecht later in the evening means their UEFA Champions League ambitions are over.

The Russian title holders needed to begin with a bang but instead found their own ears ringing after a double blow. Two down after 13 minutes at Málaga on matchday one, they faced a similarly difficult task even sooner on this occasion. The visitors took the lead with their first attack of note, Seba breaking clear down the right before picking out Buonanotte, who had plenty of time to pick his spot.

A minute later Málaga doubled their advantage following an error from Vyacheslav Malafeev. The Zenit goalkeeper's poor clearance found Roque Santa Cruz, who squared the ball for Seba to finish into the unguarded net.

Luciano Spalletti's side had to improve yet lacked urgency. There was little continuity in attack and, aside from efforts from Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Tomáš Hubočan, Willy was largely untroubled in the Málaga goal.

Coming out for the second half, Zenit required a lift. It arrived inside four minutes as Danny exchanged passes with Hubočan and slotted coolly past Willy. With the Spanish outfit content to sit back and protect their cushion, Zenit poured forward in search of an equaliser, Kerzhakov squandering a couple of good chances.

Three minutes from the end, the Premier-Liga team were level. Though Danny somehow contrived to miss from barely a metre out, Málaga failed to clear and Fayzulin was on hand to power into the net. A winner, though, proved elusive and Vladimir Bystrov's late dismissal means he will sit out the matchday six trip to Milan when Zenit need to better Anderlecht's result at Málaga to earn the consolation of a UEFA Europa League spot.

Last updated: 04/12/13 19.01CET

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