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Zenit ease to victory over ten-man Torino

FC Zenit 2-0 Torino FC
André Villas-Boas's side have one foot in the quarter-finals after capitalising on Marco Benassi's first-half red card.

Axel Witsel celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Axel Witsel celebrates after scoring the opening goal ©AFP/Getty Images

• Erstwhile Italy defender Domenico Criscito scores against his compatriots
• Torino play 62 minutes with ten men after Marco Benassi's second booking
• Zenit have won four out of four and are yet to concede in 2015
• Javi García booked and is suspended for next Thursday's second leg

FC Zenit have one foot in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after making the most of Marco Benassi's first-half dismissal.

Torino FC arrived in Russia ready to contain, but the game plan was torn up when Benassi saw red before the half-hour mark. Zenit, hitherto stifled, thrived in the extra space, and goals either side of half-time from Axel Witsel and Domenico Criscito leave them well placed ahead of next week's second leg.

Torino play with three at the back, yet for much of the first half it was more like eight as they sat back and invited Zenit forward. It did not seem a bad ploy, with an early save from Daniele Padelli to deny José Rondón the only real hiccup. But the premature departure of Benassi changed the complexion of the tie immediately.

Paris Saint-Germain did not do too badly after going down to ten men away from home at a similar time last night, but a repeat of those heroics was never on. Witsel's opener seven minutes before the interval was a hammer blow, the midfielder firing past the stricken Padelli after the keeper had parried a low shot from the advancing Oleg Shatov.

Zenit were evidently keen to press home their advantage, and before long it was 2-0. Less than two minutes after Hulk and Danny had unlocked the Torino defence with a crisp one-two they did so again, Hulk making better contact second time round as he hit the upright. The ball rolled back to Criscito five metres out and the Italian side-footed in.

It is advantage Zenit, but the Serie A side are not out of it yet.

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