Andrei Arshavin scored an 89th-minute winner for FC Zenit St. Petersburg to secure a 1-0 aggregate victory against AEK Athens FC. After the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in the opening leg in Russia, the second looked to be heading the same way until Arshavin's late strike secured Zenit a place in the UEFA Cup group phase.
Cautious first half
The first chance of a generally cautious first half fell to Alexandre Soares of AEK. The forward collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area before firing over. Zenit responded moments later when Arshavin's inswinging delivery found Milan Vještica unmarked, but the defender could not head on target.
Zenit's best moment of the half came in the 29th minute, when Bruno Cirillo fouled Radek Šírl on the edge of the area. Šírl picked himself up to strike a fine curling free-kick that Stefano Sorrentino did well to save.
The second period began in a similarly pedestrian vein, until Vladimir Ivić was presented with a good chance on 57 minutes but sent his low show wide of the Zenit goal. The Russian side responded through Vladislav Radimov, whose effort drifted wide, but it was AEK whose increased urgency looked likelier to win through.
Julio Cesar spurned their best chance with ten minutes to go, and was made to pay the price. With the game seemingly heading for extra time, Arshavin seized possession on the edge of the area and lashed a powerful right-foot shot into the bottom corner.