FC Zenit St. Petersburg came from behind to defeat Larissa FC in Greece, maintain their unbeaten start in UEFA Cup Group A, and give their confidence a timely boost before a date with destiny in Russia on Sunday.
Zenit are two points clear of FC Spartak Moskva going into their final match of the Premier-Liga season at FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast, and will hope to seal a first domestic crown since 1984 before they return to European action against 1. FC Nürnberg on 29 November. Fatih Tekke was the hero tonight, scoring the decisive goal in the 78th minute to end Larissa's unbeaten home record in Europe and move Dick Advocaat's club on to four points, following an opening draw against AZ Alkmaar.
Larissa started brightly with Cleyton, Georgios Galitsios, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Nikos Dabizas all having chances to break the deadlock before Pavel Pogrebnyak celebrated his 24th birthday in style by volleying in a super opening goal. The second half began as the first had ended and Pogrebnyak was denied a second goal minutes after the restart when Stefanos Kotsolis scrambled away his close-range shot. However, Larissa came storming back and Bakayoko fired in a warning shot in advance of the leveller, scored by Nektarios Alexandrou (58) as he turned in a Georgios Fotakis corner.
Provider turned scorer four minutes later as the excellent Fotakis drove the ball in from ten metres, and two perhaps should have become three when Bakayoko shot wide. Larissa were made to pay in the 70th minute as Konstantin Zyrianov equalised with a shot from inside the area after a pass from substitute Alejandro Dominguez. Once again the pendulum had swung in the visitors' favour and with 12 minutes remaining Dominguez crossed for Tekke who made no mistake from close range.