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Zenit on the ropes after Sevilla loss

Published: Monday 3 April 2006, 9.10CET
FC Zenit St. Petersburg need to overturn a 4-1 deficit against Sevilla FC without three suspended players in their UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg.

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Published: Monday 3 April 2006, 9.10CET

Zenit on the ropes after Sevilla loss

FC Zenit St. Petersburg need to overturn a 4-1 deficit against Sevilla FC without three suspended players in their UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg.

FC Zenit St. Petersburg have more than a few obstacles to overcome if they are to keep their hopes alive in this season's UEFA Cup after suffering a 4-1 defeat at Sevilla FC in the first leg of their quarter-final. An away goal by Aleksandr Kerzhakov offers a glimmer of hope for Zenit, but they will be without three suspended players in the return game after finishing the first leg with only nine men.

• On the 60th anniversary of their first and only Spanish league title win, Sevilla outclassed Zenit at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuan thanks to two goals by Javier Saviola and further strikes by José Luis Martí and Adriano Correia. Zenit's cause became even more desperate when Erik Hagen and Andrei Arshavin were sent off, meaning both will be absent in St. Petersburg along with Velice Sumulikoski who picked up his third booking of the campaign in the first encounter.

• The winners of the tie are likely to come up against FC Schalke 04 in the semi-finals after the German side won the first leg of their tie 3-1 at PFC Levski Sofia on Thursday.

• Sevilla and Zenit locked horns for the third time in two seasons when they met in the first leg. The Russian team picked up a win and a draw in the group stage of this campaign and last season's (when Julio Baptista - now with Real Madrid CF - cancelled out Arshavin's opener), although both were in the comfort of their Petrovsky stadium home. Sevilla defeated another Russian side, FC Lokomotiv Moskva, in the last 32.

• A second-half strike from Jordi López gave the Spanish side the initiative against Lokomotiv in freezing conditions in the Russian capital and goals from Vicenzo Maresca and Antonio Puerta then saw them through in Spain. It was the continuation of an impressive UEFA Cup campaign in which they escaped a congested Group H as section winners. Saviola was in the goals as Sevilla defeated Beşiktaş JK and Vitória SC, while drawing with Bolton Wanderers FC and losing to Zenit.

• Kerzhakov scored twice to help Zenit to a 2-1 home victory against Sevilla in November. The Russia striker set them on course for three points with an eleventh-minute opener before sealing the success with his and Zenit's second two minutes from time. Saviola reduced the deficit deep into added time, but it proved too little, too late for the visitors.

• It has been a solitary low point in a campaign of highs for Sevilla, and a 2-1 aggregate victory against LOSC Lille Métropole allowed the Andalusian outfit to overcome a first-leg deficit and book their place in the last eight. Frédéric Kanouté converted Daniel's assured cross before the half-hour, and Luis Fabiano then completed the comeback with a crisp finish on the stroke of half-time to set up yet another meeting with Zenit.

• The Russian side were also paired with French opposition in the last round, and Arshavin gave them a crucial first-leg advantage with a goal six minutes after half-time at the Stade Vélodrome home of Olympique de Marseille. Arshavin's attacking foil Kerzhakov then added another in the return, capitalising on a goalkeeping error, and although the visitors reduced the deficit a second goal proved elusive.

• It was the continuation of a fine run for Zenit which has brought them post-Christmas UEFA club competition action for the first time in their history. Wins against Guimarães and Sevilla, and a point at Beşiktaş, secured second place in Group H, and the architects of much of their success - Kerzhakov and Arshavin - continued their fine goalscoring form against Rosenborg BK in the Round of 32, as the St. Petersburg outfit ran out 4-1 aggregate winners.

• Before this season, Zenit's only previous encounter with Spanish opposition had come in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup final against RC Celta de Vigo. Celta took a 2-1 first-leg lead in Vigo, Juanfran scoring a last-minute winner after Zenit had opened the scoring through Aleksei Igonine and Russian international Valeri Karpin had responded for Celta. Zenit turned the tie on its head in the return fixture as a goal in each half from Gennadiy Popovich put the Russian team in front overall, but again Celta rallied late on as strikes in the final seven minutes from Karpin and Benni McCarthy gave them an aggregate triumph.

• Sevilla, meanwhile, have also played one other Russian club - FC Torpedo Moskva in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup second round when they suffered a 4-3 aggregate defeat. Torpedo took control of the tie with a 3-1 home win in the first leg, which was increased in the tenth minute at Sevilla thanks to a Nikolai Savichev goal. The Spanish side tried to fight back and reduced the deficit with two goals, but the equaliser eluded them.

Last updated: 03/04/06 14.07CET