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Benfica progress at Zenit's expense

Published: Tuesday 6 March 2012, 22.50CET
SL Benfica 2-0 FC Zenit St Petersburg (agg: 4-3)
Goals late in each half from Maxi Pereira and Nélson Oliveira took the Portuguese team into the last eight for the first time since 2006.
by Chris Burke
from Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica

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Match statistics

BenficaZenit

Goals scored2
 
0
Attempts on target6
 
2
Attempts off target9
 
2
Corners4
 
0
Offsides1
 
0
Fouls committed11
 
13
Yellow cards2
 
2
Red cards0
 
0
Possession (%)48
 
52

Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 6 March 2012, 22.50CET

Benfica progress at Zenit's expense

SL Benfica 2-0 FC Zenit St Petersburg (agg: 4-3)
Goals late in each half from Maxi Pereira and Nélson Oliveira took the Portuguese team into the last eight for the first time since 2006.

SL Benfica are back in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in six years after Maxi Pereira's first-half effort and a late Nélson Oliveira strike propelled the Portuguese side past FC Zenit St Petersburg.

Beaten 3-2 in Russia three weeks ago, Benfica encountered stout resistance in the opening period as they chased the win they needed. Patience was required but, having taken the lead in all their European outings since the start of the group stage, Jorge Jesus's men went ahead via the lively Pereira just before the break. With Zenit unable to muster a response, substitute Oliveira sealed the Eagles' passage in added time.

That had by no means seemed inevitable in the opening stages. Pereira and Bruno César combined well to make early inroads down the right, but if Benfica's pre-match plan had been to rattle Luciano Spalletti's side from the start, it was quickly revised. Calm, tidy and rigorous in their approach, Zenit denied their opponents even a sniff of goal until the 15th minute, when Vyacheslav Malafeev – back after missing the first leg through injury – leapt out to punch clear a César cross with Óscar Cardozo lurking.

A pattern of increasing Benfica pressure was emerging, however, and as the hosts began spreading their passes around with more accuracy, their attacking edge improved. The point was underlined when a slick move involving Nicolás Gaitán ended with Pereira sending a low shot across goal from a tight angle; Malafeev turned the ball clear.

Try as they might, though, clear-cut chances remained elusive. Zenit's defensive discipline was impressive to behold, and the Premier-Liga leaders almost grabbed a goal when goalkeeper Artur was dispossessed by Aleksandr Kerzhakov and had to scurry back to keep out Roman Shirokov's curled attempt.

That lapse in concentration sent shivers through the home crowd, yet they were soon celebrating as Pereira broke the deadlock in first-half added time. Axel Witsel had a shot saved by Malafeev at point-blank range, but the rebound fell at the feet of the Belgium midfielder and a back-heel found his Uruguayan team-mate, who calmly planted the ball inside the far post.

With his side's dream of a first ever last-eight place fading, Spalletti brought on Danko Lazović for Vladimir Bystrov after the break, only to watch his charges nearly fall two goals behind when centre-back Jardel headed narrowly wide following a corner. Zenit's determination to attack left the Eagles with space to exploit too, and Cardozo had a shot blocked after being served by Rodrigo down the left.

The Paraguayan predator was presented with an even better opportunity when he brushed past Nicolas Lombaerts to meet a long ball, but with just Malafeev to beat he drilled his shot beyond the post. The prolific No7 then stung the keeper's palms from the edge of the area, before Jardel directed another header wide as Benfica sought breathing space. Confidently holding their ground at the other end, they earned it, finally, as Oliveira rounded off a counterattack with a deflected effort.

Last updated: 27/11/12 14.36CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000264/match=2007673/postmatch/report/index.html#benfica+overturn+zenit+deficit

Quotes

  • Jorge Jesus

    Read more"We were up against a great team, the best in Russia. It was important to score first as we knew they could cause us problems"

  • Luciano Spalletti

    Read more"Reaching the last 16 is a major achievement for us and we performed solidly all season. Today we weren't so good"

Lineups

benfica

Benfica

zenit

Zenit

1
ArturArtur (GK)
16
MalafeevVyacheslav Malafeev (GK)
3
EmersonEmerson
2
AnyukovAleksandr Anyukov (C)
Yellow Card5
Substitution53
4
LuisãoLuisão (C)
4
CriscitoDomenico Criscito
6
Javi GarcíaJavi García
Yellow Card15
6
LombaertsNicolas Lombaerts
7
Óscar CardozoÓscar Cardozo
Substitution80
11
KerzhakovAleksandr Kerzhakov
8
Bruno CésarBruno César
14
HubočanTomáš Hubočan
14
Maxi PereiraMaxi Pereira
Goal45+1
15
ShirokovRoman Shirokov
19
RodrigoRodrigo
Substitution62
18
ZyryanovKonstantin Zyryanov
Substitution70
20
GaitánNicolás Gaitán
Substitution72
25
SemakSergei Semak
28
WitselAxel Witsel
27
DenisovIgor Denisov
Yellow Card68
33
JardelJardel
34
BystrovVladimir Bystrov
Substitution46

Substitutes

47
EduardoEduardo (GK)
30
ZhevnovYuri Zhevnov (GK)
9
NolitoNolito
Substitution62
3
Bruno AlvesBruno Alves
Substitution53
16
Nélson OliveiraNélson Oliveira
Substitution80
Goal90+3
Yellow Card90+3
8
LazovićDanko Lazović
Substitution46
21
MatićNemanja Matić
Substitution72
9
BukharovAleksandr Bukharov
27
Miguel VítorMiguel Vítor
20
FayzulinViktor Fayzulin
Substitution70
30
SaviolaJavier Saviola
23
HusztiSzabolcs Huszti
38
CapdevilaJoan Capdevila
99
KanunnikovMaksim Kanunnikov

Coach

Jorge Jesus (POR) Luciano Spalletti (ITA)

Referee

Howard Webb (ENG)

Assistant referees

Michael Mullarkey (ENG), Stephen Child (ENG)

Fourth official

Mike Dean (ENG)

Additional assistant referees

Martin Atkinson (ENG), Mark Clattenburg (ENG)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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