Late goals from Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Di Natale floored UEFA Cup holders FC Zenit St. Petersburg after Dick Advocaat's side seemed to have the Round of 16 game with Udinese Calcio under control.
With the Russian side having largely denied their opponents a sight of goal, Quagliarella poached Udinese's opener in the 85th minute and a Di Natale penalty left Zenit needing a sizeable win at the Petrovsky Stadium if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. Roman Shirkov was sent off for conceding the spot-kick, and the Russian side will also have to do without defender Aleksandr Anyukov for next Thursday's second leg after a late booking ruled him out. Maurizio Domizzi will miss out for Udinese.
The game started slowly, with long-range efforts from Di Natale and Quagliarella setting the tone. Zenit failed to muster an effort on goal until the half-hour mark when Danny unleashed a 25-metre shot that was comfortably dealt with by Samir Handanovič. The visiting goalkeeper was called on to make another save in the 40th minute, keeping out Pavel Pogrebnyak, while Simone Pepe continued the pattern of the game by firing over the crossbar for Udinese. Zenit captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk showed a little more menace just after the interval, his effort from the edge of the area cannoning back off the crossbar.
Giovanni Pasquale forced Vyacheslav Malafeev into a parried save with a left-footed shot from 20 metres, with Di Natale sending the follow-up wide. Quagliarella and Gaetano D'Agostino had further speculative shots before the hosts managed to get inside the area, only for Malafeev to tip Gökhan Inler's header over. Malafeev made two further good saves to deny Di Natale, but Udinese's perseverance paid off, with Quagliarella racing on to Pepe's ball to lash a left-footed shot high into the net. Zenit's evening took a final nasty turn, with Shirkov giving his marching orders for a foul on Christian Obodo that allowed Di Natale to make it 2-0 from the spot, providing a positive end to what had hitherto been a disappointing week for Italy in Europe.