Zenit complete emphatic Paços play-off win
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
FC Zenit 4-2 FC Paços de Ferreira (agg: 8-3)
Danny scored twice as the Russian side qualified for the group stage for the fourth time, consigning Paços de Ferreira to the UEFA Europa League.
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FC Zenit made it through to the UEFA Champions League group stage for the fourth time after comfortably disposing of debutants FC Paços de Ferreira.
Danny was the architect of the Portuguese side's downfall with a wonderful individual display, the No10 scoring two excellent goals, one in each half. A further strike from Aleksandr Bukharov made it 3-0 on the night and the goals kept coming in front of a boisterous home crowd as Manuel José and Carlão struck either side of an Andrey Arshavin penalty. Eventually Zenit emerged with a 4-2 victory, and an 8-3 triumph overall.
Paços were always up against it after their 4-1 first-leg loss and despite a bright opening, they gradually succumbed to Zenit's superiority in midfield, with Roman Shirokov and Axel Witsel asking a number of questions of the visitors' defence. Luciano Spalletti's men broke the deadlock on 29 minutes thanks to a superbly taken goal by Danny. Igor Smolnikov broke clear down the left and his pull-back found the onrushing Portuguese international, who ghosted past Ricardo before firing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Matias Degra.
Danny was again in the thick of the action three minutes into the second half. He embarked on a driving run, culminating in an expertly taken right-footed chip which nestled into the top corner. Bukharov then increased his team's lead midway through the half with a powerful header from close range after getting on the end of Aleksandr Anyukov's cross.
With the game safe, Zenit relaxed and there was a distinct drop in their intensity. Paços got on the scoreboard when Manuel José's speculative drive from distance took a deflection off Nicolas Lombaerts, wrong-footing Yuri Lodygin.
That was not the end of the scoring. There was still time for Arshavin to add a fourth, converting from the spot having been felled by Rui Miguel, and for Carlão to pull another one back for Sérgio Gaminha's charges with seven minutes remaining. For Paços, a greater source of consolation is the place that awaits in the UEFA Europa League group stage.