UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Bruno Alves gives Kerzhakov his due for Zenit

Striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov's hat-trick at RSC Anderlecht impressed new FC Zenit St. Petersburg team-mate Bruno Alves who said: "He always knows where the net is."

Aleksandr Kerzhakov (left) scored a hat-trick in Brussels
Aleksandr Kerzhakov (left) scored a hat-trick in Brussels ©Getty Images

Bruno Alves has worked with some fine finishers during his years with FC Porto and the Portuguese national team, but the FC Zenit St. Petersburg defender was quick to praise Aleksandr Kerzhakov after his team-mate's hat-trick floored RSC Anderlecht in Brussels.

The UEFA Europa League Group G game was only eight minutes old when Kerzhakov's strike suggested it might be a vexing evening for the hosts. The No11 followed that goal up with another impressive finish on 33 minutes before bringing up his treble with the pick of the three just before the break. Roland Juhász reignited local hopes with a 66th-minute header, but the damage had long been done.

"He's already proved that he's a fantastic striker," explained Bruno Alves, who linked up with Kerzhakov after joining Zenit from Porto in the summer. "He always knows where the net is and scored three wonderful goals tonight.

"It was a very good game for us," added the centre-back. "We had more chances to score in the first half and in the second we controlled the game. This win was perfect for us. We worked hard and now we want to win our other matches to secure qualification as fast as we can."

Next up for Luciano Spalletti's men is a home meeting with AEK Athens FC on 30 September, and having spent a loan spell with the Greek outfit in 2005, that will be a special occasion for Bruno Alves.

"AEK are a very good team," he said. "I played for them before so I know what they can do and I know what the club [represent]. It's going to be a fantastic game where anything can happen. But we have a very good team, with strong players and we'll be playing at home with every chance of winning."

Anderlecht will be hoping to kick-start their bid at HNK Hajduk Split on the same day and winger Guillaume Gillet admitted his side will need to work on their defending before that encounter. "We got off to a bad start," he said. "We wanted at least a point at home but we came up against a very strong side. We knew that before the start and that's how it turned out, especially in the first half.

"The level we played at wasn't enough to trouble their team," he added. "Their efficiency and our defensive frailties made it easy for them. When a team's 3-0 up away from home, it's very easy to control the match."