Manchester United FC 1-2 FC Zenit St. PetersburgThe Russian champions claimed their first UEFA Super Cup as goals from Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny denied Sir Alex Ferguson's side in Monaco.
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FC Zenit St. Petersburg produced a fine display of passing football to claim the UEFA Super Cup for the first time, a goal in each half from Pavel Pogrebnyak and debutant Danny securing victory against Manchester United FC in Monaco.
It has been a memorable few months for Russian football, Zenit's UEFA Cup triumph in May preceding the national side's run to the UEFA EURO 2008™ semi-finals, and the St Petersburg club wrote another proud chapter in their history in Monte Carlo, both goals coming from players with particular motivation to shine. Pogrebnyak, who missed both the UEFA Cup final and UEFA EURO 2008™ through suspension and injury respectively, headed the first a minute before half-time and man of the match Danny marked his first game with a goal in the 59th minute. Although Nemanja Vidić halved the deficit, United had left themselves too much to do and lost Paul Scholes to a late red card as Zenit held on to add another trophy ahead of their maiden UEFA Champions League campaign.
United lost Owen Hargreaves to a long-standing knee injury earlier in the day while Zenit left Andrei Arshavin, so influential in their UEFA Cup triumph and the inspiration behind Russia's run to the UEFA European Championship semi-finals, on the bench. One player who did start was Pogrebnyak, keen to impress after a summer of frustration and the striker could have broken the deadlock as early as the seventh minute only to lash Aleksandr Anyukov's low right-wing cross over. The right flank provided a promising avenue for Zenit to explore in the early stages yet the Russian champions were unable to find a way through.
Instead the sides opted to try their luck from long range, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Alejandro Dominguez missing the target for Zenit while Carlos Tévez tested Vyacheslav Malafeev. The Argentinian international then set up Wayne Rooney as he tenaciously held off Radek Šírl to deliver a low cross, but the United No10 was unable to get his shot away swiftly and Malafeev blocked. Any thoughts that might herald a period of United dominance were quickly expelled as Ivica Križanac crept round the back of their defence to meet Dominguez's deep free-kick with a volley that drew a smart reaction save from Edwin van der Sar.
The goalkeeper was powerless a minute before half-time, however, as Igor Denisov flicked on Dominguez's left-wing corner at the near post and Pogrebnyak showed the predatory instincts that made him the top scorer in last season's UEFA Cup, thumping in a header from unmissable range. Arshavin was introduced at half-time and running dangerously at the United defence within 60 seconds. The European champions regrouped, but were two down a minute before the hour mark. Zenit paid FC Dinamo Moskva a Russian record €30m for Danny and the Portugal midfielder returned a chunk of that fee, collecting possession midway inside the United half before taking advantage of some hesitant defending to advance, cut inside Rio Ferdinand and drill low past Van der Sar.
Malafeev then made a sharp double stop to deny substitutes John O'Shea and Ji-Sung Park, before Vidić brought the UEFA Champions League winners back into the contest from a corner 17 minutes from time. Revived, United pressed forward, yet Zenit regained their composure and Denisov might have added a third before Scholes was sent off for a second bookable offence, the first player to be dismissed in the UEFA Super Cup. It mattered little to Zenit, however, as their new European season started in similar fashion to the way the last one ended.