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Kerzhakov double sinks Sevilla

Published: Thursday 24 November 2005, 23.55CET
FC Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1 Sevilla FC Aleksandr Kerzhakov struck twice to give the Russian side three important points in Group H.
Published: Thursday 24 November 2005, 23.55CET

Kerzhakov double sinks Sevilla

FC Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1 Sevilla FC Aleksandr Kerzhakov struck twice to give the Russian side three important points in Group H.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov struck twice to give FC Zenit St. Petersburg a Group H victory against Sevilla FC and put the Russian side on the brink of qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup.

Čontofalský heroics
The Russian international opened the scoring in the first half and then doubled the home team's advantage in the 89th minute. There was still time for Javier Saviola to pull a goal back, however, and only a fine save from home goalkeeper Kamil Čontofalský prevented the Primera División side from scraping a point.

Deadlock broken
The sides kicked off level on three points - although Sevilla had played one game to Zenit's two - and it was the Russian team who struck first, taking the lead in the eleventh minute with a simple goal. Pavel Mareš played the ball from the left side of the penalty area to Kerzhakov, whose right-footed shot from 12 metres found the back of the net. Five minutes later Kerzhakov fired wide before Andrei Arshavin was denied by goalkeeper Antonio Notario.

Zenit dominate
Sevilla threatened after 34 minutes when Fernando Sales headed the ball goalwards only for Čontofalský to make the save. However, Zenit were having the better of the first half and another Kerzhakov effort, this time from a free-kick, forced Notario into action once more.

Notario scare
Sevilla enjoyed plenty of the possession after the interval but struggled to make inroads into the Zenit defence. Notario came to the visitors' rescue again after 50 minutes when he did well to keep hold of an Arshavin effort although the Sevilla custodian spilled Kerzhakov's shot moments later, though no Zenit player was no hand to capitalise.

Sevilla fightback
In a rare Sevilla foray, Javier Saviola saw his goalbound strike deflected to safety by Erik Hagen. The Argentinian forward came to life in the closing stages and after 81 minutes his right-footed shot brought another important save from Čontofalský. The Slovakian goalkeeper then did well to punch away a Frédéric Kanouté cross, while Vicenzo Maresca fired over as the Andalusian side pressed.

Late drama
However, their hopes were dashed in the 89th minute when Kerzhakov scored his second, calmly side-footing into the bottom corner from 12 metres. Sevilla pulled one back in added time when Saviola knocked in Jordi López's corner and the Spanish side almost snatched an unlikely draw but Čontofalský blocked Kepa Blanco's last-gasp effort to preserve the points.

Last updated: 25/11/05 12.30CET