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Danny sends Zenit through

FC Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 FC Unirea Urziceni (agg: 1-0)
The Russian league leaders advanced to the play-offs thanks to Danny's goal 12 minutes before the break.

Danny (centre) celebrates after scoring the only goal of the tie
Danny (centre) celebrates after scoring the only goal of the tie ©FC Zenit St Petersburg

Danny scored the only goal of the tie as FC Zenit St. Petersburg progressed to the UEFA Champions League play-offs at the expense of FC Unirea Urziceni.

The Portuguese international ensured Zenit had a lead to show for their first-half dominance by powerfully finishing off Vladimir Bystrov's pass 12 minutes before the break. Luciano Spalletti's team had chances to extend their lead after the restart, most notably through Viktor Fayzulin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov. However, they were ultimately indebted to goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev who denied substitute Maurice Dalé late on as Unirea pushed for the equaliser which would have taken them through to Friday's play-off draw.

Unlike the closing stages, a well-organised Unirea side spent much of the first period defending in numbers. Their game plan changed dramatically, though, on 33 minutes when Bystrov dribbled inside from the right and played in Danny, whose neat control and turn fashioned space for a venomous shot into the roof of the net.

If Zenit needed a warning of the precarious nature of their lead, Adrian Neaga issued it midway through the second half with a low shot which forced Malafeev into a diving save. Moments later, Fayzulin headed against the crossbar and put the rebound over from all of four metres as the game began to open up. Kerzhakov then tested Giedrius Arlauskis's reflexes with an overhead kick before, with 16 minutes remaining, Malafeev came to the hosts' rescue by brilliantly repelling Dalé's close-range effort.