Goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev cut a sombre figure after FC Zenit St. Petersburg's farewell performance in this season's UEFA Champions League resulted in a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid CF at Santiago Bernabéu.
Lack of focus
Zenit knew they had no chance of progressing in European football's élite competition prior to the game against the Spanish champions and as the Russian Premier-Liga side had guaranteed a place in the UEFA Cup before kick-off, there was little more but pride for them to play for in Madrid. "It was a really bad game for us," Malafeev told uefa.com afterwards. "The match wasn't really important for all of us so mentally we weren't switched on. It was the opposite case for them with their coach change meaning all of their players wanted to score as many as possible. Perhaps we were thinking a little bit about our holidays and the result showed that."
It was the 29-year-old keeper's first-half error that allowed Raúl González in to score his 63rd UEFA Champions League goal in front of his adoring fans and Malafeev explained that perhaps he should have dealt with the situation better than he did. "There was a cross from my right and as I couldn't catch the ball with two hands I tried to reach up with one. Unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of it properly so maybe it was my mistake." The St Petersburg native had to pick the ball out of his net on two more occasions in the second half having twice been chipped, firstly by Arjen Robben and then when Raúl bagged his second of the game.
With an end-of-season break now on the cards for the team that finished their domestic league in fifth position, Malafeev sounded a note of optimism about the challenge that awaits Zenit in the UEFA Cup next February. "We remember last season and how we were able to win the Super Cup and the UEFA Cup; it was a really good year for me and all my team-mates. We're very hopeful for next season and of course we will try to win the UEFA Cup one more time. We have every chance to do that as nothing is impossible with us."
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