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UEFA Champions League
21 November 2012
• Stadion Petrovskij, Sankt-Peterburg (St. Petersburg)
Referee: Olegário Manuel Benquerenca
• Attendance: 18347
V. Faizulin 86'
D. Buonanotte 8'
S. Fernández 9'
FULL-TIME!!! Well, what a frenetic finish to what was an absorbing contest throughout. Zenit fully deserved their late equaliser, having squandered a succession of gilt-edged opportunities. However, they're still hanging on by a thread. Malaga, though, have clinched top spot in Group C - despite having fielded an under-strength side.
90' + 5'
Red Card Vladimir Bystrov
Buonanotte has a chance to win it for Malaga before Bystrov is sent off at the death, presumably for backhat to the referee!
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Weligton
Weligton is booked as Malaga fight desperately to hold onto the point that will seal their progression as winners of Group C.
Frenetic finish in St Petersburg. Willy comes to claim a dangerous free from Hulk before Santa Cruz fires over, after Malaga had caught the hosts on the break.
Goal Viktor Faizulin
GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! Zenit have done it! Excellent from Faizulin, who initially does well to keep a pass from rolling out of play, and then clips the ball into the box, where it is flicked into the path of Bystrov. He fires across the face of goal, where somehow Danny fails to turn the ball home. But Faizulin is quick to the rebound and drills it home through a crowd of bodies for the equalizer!
All or nothing time for Zenit. The urgency and desperation is practically suffocating the stadium, coursing through the veins of every Zenitchiki in attendance.
Danny suddenly is put through towards goal, but Caballero stands tall to block the Brazikian at the near post! Good run from Danny, but the save was a carbon copy of his chance he had immediately after his goal!
A good ball over the top from Witsel picks out Bystrov, whose volleyed cross is deplorable, straight into the arms of Caballero.
Caballero strides out of his area to deal with an over-hit pass, but slices the clearance and luckily sees it drift out for a throw in.
As things stand, if Zenit cannot get an equalizer, they better hope for a draw between Anderlecht and AC Milan, which kicks off in just over an hour.
Off goes Seba, who was excellent in the first half, and on comes Juanmi for the final stretch.
Worth noting that during all of Zenit's improved endeavor in the second-half, Hulk has been rather conspicuous by his absence. The Brazilian has barely been involved in play.
Witsel this time escapes towards the opposite byline after a reverse pass by Kerzhakov. Again, the Belgian looks to cross towards the centre but this time, Onyewu steps in to make a vital clearance. Not for the first time, I might add.
Great play from Witsel to win the ball in the Malaga penalty area. He wastes no time sprinting towards the byline, and crossing towards Kerzhakov who cannot generate enough contact on the ball. A clean touch and that was in for 2-2.
Yellow Card Bruno Alves
Alves booked for a meaty tackle on Eliseu, which sends the left back to the floor. His screams can be heard from the stands! The Portuguese defender is booked for the infraction.
It's been a good recovery from Malaga in the last few minutes. They have taken the sting out of Zenit's tail, holding possession and creating some of the danger they showed in the first half.
Yellow Card Alexander Anyukov
Anyukov back on the pitch with a vengeance, flattening Santa Cruz completely and receiving a yellow card, much to his fury.
Play is resumed as Anyukov is able to get up himself to move to the touchline and receive further treatment.
The games is halted further as Anyukov stays down on the deck with what looks like a leg injury. The Zenit medical team are certainly taking their sweet time getting to him.
And that's Duda's last contribution of the match, as the skipper makes way for the young midfielder Portillo.
A LONG range free kick, from at least 30 yards, is bent towards the far post by Duda, but Malafeev is alert to tip around the post! Good save, but you would expect the keeper to get there given the distance of the free kick.
Santa Cruz seems surprised to find himself with a few feet of space in front of the Zenit box. He feeds Seba on the right flank, but Lombaerts steps out of the centre of defence to make a good challenge and stop the attack in its tracks.
Witsel with space to cross, and multiple teammates queuing up in the centre of the box, but he cannot beat the first man. Poor, poor stuff.
Zenit again swarming all over the Malaga penalty area. Kerzhakov breaks free towards the byline and squares inside the six yard area, but Weligton again is in the right place at the right time to clear the danger!
Anyukov with a good low cross that is a bit tricky for Weligton to deal with, but the half time substitute manages to hack it clear with Kerzhakov lurking.
Malaga mange to calm things down a bit after looking on the verge of bursting apart at the seams. The fans inside the Petrovsky stadium are awakened again - the drums are rolling and the flags are waving.
Despite Kerzhakov's horrible miss, this has been a magnificent response from Zenit to start the second half. Spalletti certainly did his work at half-time. Don't go anywhere folks!
How are Zenit not level?? Kerzhakov takes a pass from Danny brilliantly in his stride, getting goalside of Gamez and faced with a virtual open goal after forcing Caballero off his line at an angle. But, with the fans already celebrating, he fires into the side netting!
Danny nearly scores a quickfire second after slipping in on the right, but his finish is blocked by Caballero! Zenit on the verge of pulling a Malaga there.
Assist Tomás Hubocan
ZENIT ARE BACK IN IT! A nifty finish from Danny, who controls a cross from Hubocan inside the area and places his finish superbly inside the far post.
Denisov with space to shoot, but fails to find the target from about 20 yards. Disappointing ending to a promising opening.
Here we go again! One change to report, as Demichelis, already on a yellow, is wisely taken off. He will miss Malaga's last match through suspension, but will be ready for the knockout stages.
Excellent smash and grab stuff from Malaga, with a pair of quickfire goals to put them in as comfortable a position as any team in the Champions League this season. As things stand, they are strolling into the knockout stages as Group C winners. Zenit meanwhile have a tall order ahead of them to wrest this slide in the second half. Stay tuned.
45' + 2'
Yellow Card S. Fernández
45' + 2'
45' + 1'
Malaga happy to play down the clock for the remainder of the half. Job done for the half. Pellegrini could not have asked anything more.
Danny had a good chance to shoot, but a Malaga defender blocks the ball. Denisov picks up the rebound and fires away at goal. but Caballero was able to get his weak hand over to palm away admirably.
Santa Cruz sprinting forward and slips the ball back to Eliseu on the edge of the box. He primes to shoot, but his attempt is blocked by Denisov. Half a chance there.
The corner is claimed well by Malafeev, who sparks Zenit on the break almost instantly with a good throw. Witsel ends up winning a corner of his own after his shot it deflected, but Cabalerro makes a good catch from the delivery.
Corner from Malaga after Gamez had caused some problems on the overlap. Good play from the Malaga fullback to get past his man.
Play is resumed by the visitors.
The ball is whacked out of play to allow Hulk to receive some attention. The Brazilian tried to dribble inside of Camacho and banged knees painfully with the Malaga man. The physios have been summoned.
Yellow Card D. Buonanotte
Buonanotte goes into the book for a careless trip on Witsel, who with his afro, looks at least twice the size of the Malaga man. Cautioned after one too many infractions, methinks.
Zenit have tailed off in the last five minutes or so. No coincidence that the atmosphere in the stands has shifted from one of chanting and hope to one of whistles and frustration.
Toulalan winning the ball off Witsel just in front of the Malaga area. The veteran Frenchman has put in a tidy shift patrolling ahead of the back four, and has broke up his fair share of attacks so far.
The first half-hour of this game has shaped up superbly. Malaga harbor a threat every time when they attack, while Zenit are not pulling any punches when they break forward. More goals in this one for sure.
Yellow Card Danny
Danny booked for back-chatting the referee.
Nice stat for you that shows just how swift Malaga's start was. Their 2-0 lead within 9 minutes equals the fastest 2-goal lead by an away team in the Champions League, the other occurrence was Salzburg at AEK on 23 November, 1994.
Foul call on Denisov inside the area for a high boot. The whistle is blown a split second before Lombaerts unleashes an absolutely ferocious volley that leaves the crossbar shaking.
Kerzhakov on the ball again, seemingly playing in Danny for a clear run on goal, but Gamez gets back superbly well to cover and take the ball off the Brazilian's toes.
In a split second, Kerzhakov gets behind Eliseu and squeezes a shot at goal from an angle, which needed saving from Caballero.
Seba with a sublime piece of control near the corner flag to leave Hubocan and Shirokov absolutely bamboozled. He manages to get a cross in, but Lombaerts manages to head clear the delivery.
Danny with a great shimmy to beat Gamez, but in his attempts to step over and get past Onyewu, he leaves the ball behind. Poor execution there, ruining what could have been a great chance for the hosts.
Buonanotte twists and turns on the ball inside the area, attracting attention from a new Zenit defender with each swivel. Eventually, the goalscorer tumbles under the pressure and loses possession. No foul.
Malaga look dangerous every time that they break with the ball. Their players are spreading themselves superbly in the attacking third, and finding a lot of opportunities to isolate their markers one-on-one.
Yellow Card Martín Demichelis
OOOHH....close from Hulk, who bends a strong attempt just off target. A foot lower and that was heading into the top corner, and Caballero was not getting to that!
Hulk looking to drag his team back into this game, as he is sent flying on the edge of the box by Demichelis, who takes the yellow card without complaint. Free kick to come in a good position...
Almost a quick reply from Zenit, as Hulk goes carving into the area, but is bundled off the ball about five yards from goal by Onyewu - probably the only player on the pitch that could beat the Brazilian in a physical battle.
Assist Roque Santa Cruz
Goal S. Fernández
MALAGA 2-0 ZENIT! Suicidal stuff from Malafeev. Under no pressure at all, he tries to pass to Buno Alves, but the defender had his back turned. Santa Cruz robs the ball and squares to Seba, for a cool finish!
Assist S. Fernández
Goal D. Buonanotte
Malaga open the scoring! Great work from Seba to advance down the right flank. He sends a low cross into the area where Buonanotte saunters in, unmarked, to plant a finish past Malafeev!
Malaga slowly getting into the game here. Zenit's midfield seems to have switched off from their early tenacity and are allowing more space for the Spaniards to advance through the centre.
Certainly an edge in this game to start. Zenit not afraid to put themselves about and have committed a few niggling fouls so far, with Toulalan the victim most times.
Zenit did not have the best preparation for this crunch clash, as their last game, a domestic clash against Dynamo Moscow, was abandoned after the Dynamo keeper was hit by a flare from the crowd. Welcome to Russia?
Here we go!
Zenit pouring forward now in search of a winner, which would breathe new life into their qualification hopes.
We are just about to get underway here in Russia...
Malaga are already through, and only need a single point from the two games remaining to be ensured of a spot as group winners. Even if Zenit lose today, they still have a chance of making the knockout stages if Anderlecht and Milan draw in today's other group fixture. But should either of those teams emerge victorious later today, then Zenit need to record at least a draw against Malaga.
You ready for Group C permutations? Deep breath...here we go...
MALAGA: Willy, Gámez, Demichelis, Onyewu, Camacho, Toulalan, Duda, Eliseu, Buonanotte, Seba, Santa Cruz SUBS: Pol, Weligton, Isco, Portillo, Recio, Juanmi, Fabrice.
ZENIT: Malafeev, Anyukov, Alves, Lombaerts, Hubočan, Shirokov, Denisov, Witsel, Danny, Kerzhakov, Hulk SUBS: Baburin, Zuev, Zyryanov, Fayzulin, Semak, Bystrov, Kanunnikov.
First, the teams...
Greetings one and all, and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the Champions League. We kick things off today with the clash between Zenit and Malaga in Russia. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, bringing you all the action. Stay tuned.
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