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History feeding Zenit belief against AEK

FC Zenit St. Petersburg have enjoyed the upper hand in previous meetings with AEK Athens FC and will be hoping Aleksandr Kerzhakov can repeat past feats when the sides lock horns in Group G.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov helped himself to a hat-trick last time out
Aleksandr Kerzhakov helped himself to a hat-trick last time out ©Getty Images

Having scored a hat-trick the first time the two sides met, FC Zenit St. Petersburg striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov ought to be high on confidence when AEK Athens FC visit in UEFA Europa League Group G.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are preparing for their fourth meeting, with Vlastimil Petržela's Zenit having beaten Fernando Santos's AEK 5-1 at home in the inaugural UEFA Cup group stage in 2004/05, before eliminating the Greek outfit 1-0 on aggregate in the first round of the following season's competition.

• The teams for the sides' first meeting at the Petrovski Stadion on 21 October 2004 were:
Zenit: Malafeev*, Radimov (Denisov*, 74), Škrtel (Horák, 46), Spivak, Mareš, Arshavin, Kerzhakov*, Šumulikoski, Flachbart, Bystrov* (Vlasov, 81), Gorshkov.
AEK: Michailidis, Bruno Alves*, Kostenoglou, Soares, Petkov (Rusev, 70), Konstantinidis (Kampantaes, 56), Katsouranis, Kontis, Amponsah (Tziortziopoulos, 56), Krassas, Liberopoulos*.

• Both sides missed out on a place in the knockout stages in 2004/05.

• The match was notable for Kerzhakov scoring his first hat-trick in UEFA club competition; he plundered his second in Matchday 1's 3-1 victory at RSC Anderlecht.

• Zenit defender Bruno Alves spent the 2004/05 season at AEK and played a full part in the match.

• The teams for the following year's tie in St Petersburg, a 0-0 draw on 15 September 2005, were:
Zenit: Čontofalský, Radimov, Vjestica, Spivak (Šírl, 86), Mareš, Arshavin (Vlasov, 75), Kerzhakov*, Hagen, Denisov*, Anyukov*, Gorshkov (Poškus, 53).
AEK: Sorrentino, Malbaša, Cirillo, Alexopoulos, Venglinskiy (Lakis, 84), Ivić, Katsouranis (Kiriakidis, 90), Kontis, Liberopoulos*, Julio César (Soares, 73).

* Eligible to play in this game

Match background
• Zenit's only other match against Greek opponents ended in an away win at Larissa FC. Thus their record in four games against Greek sides reads W3 D1 L0 (W1 D1 L0 at home).

• AEK have played an additional six games against Russian sides other than Zenit, with their record in nine matches against Premier-Liga opposition reading W2 D3 L4 (W0 D2 L3 in Russia).

• Zenit are unbeaten in seven European home fixtures since a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid CF in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage. They have not lost a UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League game at the Petrovski Stadion since going down 1-0 to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the 2007/08 quarter-finals, when they went on to win the competition.

• A 1-0 triumph at Dundee United FC in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs ended AEK's six-match wait for an away win in Europe.

Team facts
• Hired as Zenit coach in December 2009, Luciano Spalletti promptly led the club to Russian Cup success. A lower-league midfielder in his native Italy, he was lured to AS Roma after leading Udinese Calcio to a shock fourth-place finish in 2004/05. He won two Italian Cups in Rome before resigning in September 2009.

• AEK coach Dušan Bajević resigned on Sunday night in the wake of a 3-1 loss at promoted Olympiacos Volou FC, bringing to an end his third spell as the club's coach. The Serbian, who won two league titles with AEK as a player and four more as a coach, has been temporarily replaced by former Albanian international midfielder Bledar Kola, one of AEK's youth team coaches.

• This will be AEK's 100th game in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, with the previous 99 having ended W36 D20 L43.

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