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Resilient Twente hold off Zenit comeback

FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 FC Twente (agg: 2-3)
First-half goals from Roman Shirokov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov were not enough to salvage a quarter-final place for the Russian champions.

Resilient Twente hold off Zenit comeback
Resilient Twente hold off Zenit comeback ©UEFA.com

FC Zenit St Petersburg came up just short against FC Twente, with goals from Roman Shirokov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov not enough to rescue a UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie overshadowed by tragedy.

Zenit were rocked in the run-up to kick-off by the news that goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev's wife Marina had been killed in a car crash. They could have been forgiven for being distracted as they looked to chalk off a 3-0 deficit from the first leg but efforts from Shirokov and Kerzhakov before half-time brought them right back into it. A third proved elusive, however.

The home side were ahead on 16 minutes, Shirokov skipping onto Danny's deft pass and scoring at the second attempt after an initial shot rebounded off the post. Nikolay Mihaylov in the Twente goal then made a splendid diving save to deny Aleksandr Anyukov, and had just got a fingertip to a Kerzhakov shot when his side went 2-0 down.

Danko Lazović battled into the box, getting a shot on target despite the attentions of the retreating Twente defence. Mihaylov's block took the sting out of that effort, though his intervention left a loose ball for Kerzhakov to smash into the net. At that stage it looked like a matter of when, rather than whether, they would score a third.

The second half bore little resemblance to the first. Suddenly in a situation where they had something to lose, Zenit lacked sparkle, with Twente showing more aggression. Space began to open up for the Dutch champions; Luuk de Jong scooped one effort over and Nacer Chadli had a point-blank header palmed over by Yuri Zhevnov.

Luciano Spalletti's men risked more as the final whistle drew closer, but Twente's nerve held, Mihaylov notably racing off his line to claim one searching ball into his box.