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Ten-man Basel make Zenit pay the penalty

Published: Thursday 14 March 2013, 20.09CET
Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 Basel 1893 (agg: 1-2)
Yann Sommer saved a late Roman Shirokov penalty as the Swiss champions held out valiantly after Marcelo Díaz's first-half dismissal.
by Martyn Hindley
from Stadion Petrovski

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Published: Thursday 14 March 2013, 20.09CET

Ten-man Basel make Zenit pay the penalty

Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 Basel 1893 (agg: 1-2)
Yann Sommer saved a late Roman Shirokov penalty as the Swiss champions held out valiantly after Marcelo Díaz's first-half dismissal.

For the second week running FC Basel 1893 dealt late heartbreak to FC Zenit St Petersburg, Yann Sommer saving Roman Shirokov's 86th-minute penalty to take the Swiss champions through to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

Axel Witsel's first-half header set Luciano Spalletti's Russian title holders on the comeback trail and when Marcelo Díaz collected two bookings in four minutes before the interval, the visitors were up against it. Yet they weathered the storm and repelled Zenit captain Shirokov's effort to earn their spot in the last eight.

Warming the winter Stadion Petrovski air with their purpose and energy, Zenit gave an early indication that they believed they could overturn last Thursday's 2-0 round of 16 first-leg loss. There was no early scoreboard return, but on the half-hour mark the hosts halved their deficit. Hulk swept in a corner that was flicked on by the alert Nicolas Lombaerts, allowing Witsel to stoop and steer a header beyond Sommer.

Before then, Murat Yakin's team had boasted the best chance when Valentin Stocker's shot on the turn whistled over; losing Stocker to injury soon after amounted to a double blow for the away side. They remained ahead on aggregate yet the magnitude of their task grew when Díaz elicited his second caution for a tackle on Bruno Alves.

Playing the second period with ten men seemed to toughen Basel's resolve. Structural discipline intact, they even fashioned a superb opportunity for an away goal soon after the restart when Mohamed Salah shimmied a pass through to Mohamed Elneny, only for the latter of the two Egyptians to run out of space before getting a strike in.

Zenit dominated from then on. Danny chipped over from close range, Vladimir Bystrov rattled the inside of the post and Hulk's audacious attempt at glory from 25 metres shaved the apex of post and bar. And when Park Joo Hoo upended Bystrov, it appeared Zenit had a passport to extra time but Sommer provided the late heroics to send Basel through.

Last updated: 16/03/13 0.12CET

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