FC Zenit St. Petersburg hold a narrow advantage following their 1-0 home win against Villarreal CF in their UEFA Cup Round of 32 first leg.
Pavel Pogrebnyak struck the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute following an error of judgement by away goalkeeper Diego López, who had been in fine fettle until then. The Russian champions had further chances to take a more convincing lead to Spain but were forced to settle for a one-goal margin.
Villarreal started brightly and the first decent effort of the match came from Nihat Kahveci, whose 25-metre free-kick was well saved by Vyacheslav Malafeev. Dick Advocaat's men responded with a long-range set-piece of their own, Anatoliy Tymoschuk firing in a shot that was saved by López. Nihat then had a great chance to give the Spanish visitors a 20th-minute lead when he broke beyond the Zenit defence, but the Turkish international had his attempted chip blocked by Malafeev. However, López was the busier goalkeeper after that and was forced to save twice from Pogrebnyak and once from Victor Fayzulin.
López picked up where he left off at the start of the second half, denying Kim Dong-Jin after the Korea Republic defender had raced behind the visiting back line. However, the Villarreal goalkeeper was at fault just after hour mark as the home side scored the game's only goal through Pogrebnyak. Despite looking favourite to clear Andrei Arshavin's first-time through-ball after coming out feet first, he missed his kick allowing the Zenit striker the easiest of tap-ins. The goalscorer had a chance to double the lead seven minutes later, but the Villarreal defence managed to block to leave the tie in the balance ahead of the second leg on 21 February.
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