Sevilla FC and FC Zenit St. Petersburg will lock horns for the third time in two seasons when they meet in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
Sevilla FC and FC Zenit St. Petersburg will lock horns for the third time in two seasons when they meet in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. The Russian team have the edge after picking up a win and a draw in the group stages of this campaign and last, although both were in the comfort of their Petrovsky stadium home. Sevilla will hope for more success in the familiar surroundings of the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán where they defeated another Russian side, FC Lokomotiv Moskva, in the last 32.
• A second-half strike from Jordi López gave the Spanish side the initiative against Lokomotiv in freezing conditions in the Russian capital and goals from Vicenzo Maresca and Antonio Puerta then saw them through in Spain. It was the continuation of an impressive UEFA Cup campaign in which they escaped a congested Group H as section winners. Javier Saviola was in the goals as Sevilla defeated Beşiktaş JK and Vitória SC, while drawing with Bolton Wanderers FC and losing to Zenit.
• Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored twice to help the home team to a 2-1 victory against Sevilla at the Petrovsky stadium back in November. The Russia striker set them on course for victory with an eleventh-minute opener before sealing the points with his and Zenit's second two minutes from time. Javier Saviola reduced the deficit deep into added time, but it proved too little, too late for the visitors.
• It has been a solitary low point in a campaign of highs for Sevilla, and a 2-1 aggregate victory against LOSC Lille Métropole allowed the Andalusian outfit to overcome a first-leg deficit and book their place in the last eight. Frédéric Kanouté converted Daniel's assured cross before the half-hour, and Luis Fabiano then completed the comeback with a crisp finish on the stroke of half-time to set up yet another meeting with Zenit.
• The Russian side were also paired with French opposition in the last round, and Andrei Arshavin giving them a crucial first-leg advantage with a goal six minutes after half-time at the Stade Vélodrome, home of Olympique de Marseille. Arshavin's attacking foil Kerzhakov then added another in the return, capitalising on a goalkeeping error, and although the visitors reduced the deficit a second goal proved elusive.
• It was the continuation of a fine run for Zenit which has brought them post-Christmas UEFA club competition action for the first time in their history. Wins against Guimarães and Sevilla, and a point at Beşiktaş, secured second place in Group H, and the architects of much of their success - Kerzhakov and Arshavin - continued their fine goalscoring form against Rosenborg BK in the Round of 32, as the St. Petersburg outfit ran out 4-1 aggregate winners.
• This will be the third time Zenit and Sevilla have met met, after being paired in the group stage in last season's competition, which finished all square as the sides shared a 1-1 draw. Arshavin gave Zenit a first-half lead but the Russian side were pegged back with 19 minutes remaining, however, as Julio Baptista - now with Real Madrid CF - replied to ensure Sevilla left the Petrovsky stadium with a point.
• Zenit's only previous second encounter with Spanish opposition came in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup final against RC Celta de Vigo. Celta took a 2-1 first-leg lead in Vigo, Juanfran scoring a last-minute winner after Zenit had opened the scoring through Aleksei Igonine and Russian international Valeri Karpin had responded for Celta. Zenit turned the tie on its head in the return fixture as a goal in each half from Gennadiy Popovich put the Russian team in front overall, but again Celta rallied late on as strikes in the final seven minutes from Karpin and Benni McCarthy gave them an aggregate triumph.
• Sevilla, meanwhile, have also played one other Russian club - FC Torpedo Moskva in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup second round when they suffered a 4-3 aggregate defeat. Torpedo took control of the tie with a 3-1 home win in the first leg, which was increased in the tenth minute at Sevilla thanks to a Nikolai Savichev goal. The Spanish side tried to fight back and reduced the deficit with two goals, but the equaliser eluded them.