Sevilla FC have one foot in the UEFA Cup semi-finals after a comprehensive 4-1 first-leg victory against nine-man FC Zenit St. Petersburg in Spain.
It was 60 years ago that Sevilla won their first and only Spanish title, and while a presentation at half-time celebrated the deeds of the surviving members of that team, Juande Ramos's current vintage proved the star attraction with Javier Saviola scoring twice.
The Argentina forward had tested goalkeeper Viacheslav Malafeev once before he broke the deadlock after 15 minutes, nodding in Adriano Correia's well-weighted cross. Julien Escudé and Saviola both went close to doubling the home advantage before Aleksandr Kerzhakov headed Andrei Arshavin's centre past Andrés Palop just before half-time.
Kerzhakov struck twice against Sevilla when these sides met at the Petrovsky stadium in this season's group stage. But any fear his away goal might prove significant was gradually dispelled as Erik Hagen's foul on Frédéric Kanouté earned the Norwegian a red card on 56 minutes, and Sevilla a penalty.
Kanouté, Saviola and Jordi López all failed to convert spot-kicks during Sevilla's last two Primera División games, but José Luis Martí finally broke that run and Sevilla were to plunder two further goals as Vlastimil Petržela's team unravelled at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.
Kanouté fired over as the hosts tried to make the extra man count before Saviola got his second of the night with ten minutes remaining, hitting the ball low into Malafeev's net after a pass from Antonio Puerta. Arshavin further stacked the odds in the Andalusian side's favour by being sent off in the 90th minute.
There was still time for Adriano to salt Zenit's wounds, converting from close range just before the final whistle. With Hagen and the influential Arshavin suspended for the second leg in Russia next week, Zenit's mission looks all but impossible.
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