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UEFA Champions League

  • February 15, 2012
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Stadion Petrovskiy, Sankt-Peterburg (St. Petersburg)
  • Referee: J. Eriksson
  • • Attendance: 18200

Live Commentary

  • Full time in St.Petersburg. We can take a breath now! Fantastic end to the match. Luciano Spalletti's men go into the second leg with a narrow 3-2 advantage over Benfica thanks to a double from Shirokov and a goal from Semak to cancel out the strikes of Maxi and Cardozo. Thank you for joining us on an stay tuned for our Champions League coverage throughout the night!
  • 90'
    SubstitutionN. Gaitán Miguel Vítor
  • 90'
    An incredible end to the match! Awful defending all round! Benfica thought they had earned a point but they throw it away!
  • 89'
    SubstitutionViktor Faizulin Alessandro Rosina
  • 88'
    Goal Roman Shirokov
  • 88'
    GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL FOR ZENIT!!! Unbelievable!! The hosts go straight up the park and regain the lead! Maxi attempts to clear the ball for Benfica but completely messes it up! Shirokov takes advantages and takes the ball past Artur before smashing home! 3-2!
  • 87'
    Goal Ó. Cardozo
  • 86'
    GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL FOR BENFICA!!!! Awful goalkeeping from Zhevnov!! Gaitan hits a fairly weak shot at goal but the Zenit goalkeeper saves and them palms the ball into the path of Cardozo, who scores from close range!
  • 83'
    Benfica continue to probe forward. They are running out of time to grab another away goal, which so often prove to be important in the Champions League.
  • 81'
    This has been a really close match. Zenit have probably edged it, but only slightly. Benfica just needed to create more chances, still 10 minutes left though to grab a vital second goal.
  • 79'
    Benfica on top after conceding the second goal. Zenit have sat back slightly and this has allowed the visitors to dictate possession. Still a lack of goalscoring chances, though.
  • 77'
    Chance for Kerzhakov!!! The ball found its way to the Zenit forward just to the right of the goal near the by-line and but he smashes the ball into the side netting while four team-mates stood waiting for a pass in the box! Poor decision from Kerzhakov!
  • 76'
    SubstitutionBruno César Nolito
  • 75'
    Yellow Card Pablo Aimar
  • 75'
    Benfica make their second change of the match as Nolito replaces Bruno Cesar. Still time for the visitors to grab an equaliser here!
  • 73'
    Pablo Aimar picks up a booking for leading with the arm going into a challenge. The Argentine will now miss the return leg in Portugal. A real blow for Benfica.
  • 71'
    Assist Vladimir Bystrov
  • 71'
    Goal Sergey Semak
    GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL FOR ZENIT!!! A really well worked move!! The ball came to Kerzhakov on the by-line, who beautifully flicked the ball into the path of Bystrov who side -footed a cross into the box. Substitute Sergey Semak was there to guide the ball into the far corner with his back to goal!
  • 69'
    Cardozo nearly sniffs out a chance in the penalty area. He managed to squeeze a shot on goal but a combination of Alves and Lombaerts took the sting out of the attempt. It still had Zhevnov scrambling though!
  • 67'
    A break in play at the moment as Axel Witsel is down with an injury in the middle of the park. He just took a small knock on the back of the head but he looks to be okay.
  • 66'
    SubstitutionMaxim Kanunnikov Vladimir Bystrov
  • 65'
    Another change from Zenit St.Petersburg as Kannunikov is replaced by Vladimir Bystrov. The Russian is sure to add some pace to proceedings.
  • 63'
    Yellow Card Alexander Anyukov
  • 63'
    Gaitan dangerously dribbles down the right again but on this occasion he finds himself outnumbered by the Zenit defenders, who have clearly sensed the danger he possesses.
  • 61'
    Bruno Alves has not been particularly majestic in possession but he has been solid at the back tonight. Every pass that comes forward, more often than not he has been there to clear the ball away from danger.
  • 59'
    Some signs of frustration just creeping into the match from Zenit. Aimar was showing good strength with his back to goal in the opposition half but Lombaerts comes in with a silly challenge behind to give Benfica a cheap free kick.
  • 57'
    The ball is fire up top by Benfica and Cardozo holds the ball up well before slipping a pass to the side for Aimar but Anyukov makes an important interception and clears the ball out for a throw.
  • 55'
    Gaitan steals possession on the right and gets to the byline before cutting inside and attempting to curl the ball into the far corner from an impossible angle only for the ball to go wide. Probably not the best option as Cardozo was standing unmarked inside the box.
  • 53'
    Both sides surrendering possession in midfield far too easily at the moment. The surface is making it a midfield battle but neither team looks as if they will budge as it stands.
  • 50'
    Nicolas Gaitan drives forward through the centre and attempts to reverse a pass through the middle of the Zenit defence for Cardozo but the hosts manage to clean up and regain possession.
  • 48'
    Very neat interplay in the centre of midfield with Aimar and Witsel at the heart. Some incisive passing looked to have Zenit on the ropes but the Argentine was cynically fouled by Denisov. Free kick to Benfica.
  • 47'
    A change to report at half time as Konstantin Zyranov is replaced by Sergey Semak for Zenit.
  • 46'
    SubstitutionKonstantin Zyryanov Sergey Semak
  • 46'
    Zenit kick off the second half. A very even match so far, who will score their vital second goal in the next 45 minutes?
  • End of the first half. An intriguing match so far as strikes from Maxi Pereira and Shirokov balance the match perfectly at the break. An even contest so far, in which both sides will think they have a shot to take an advantage into the second leg.
  • 45' + 1'
    Yellow Card Bruno César
  • 44'
    The ball comes to Zyranov on the by-line and he lashes a pass along the six yard box but there are no takers for Zenit! Benfica manage to scramble the ball away!
  • 43'
    Maxi Pereira drives down the right flank again but the ball is put out for a throw-in after a superb challenge by Hubocan. Maxi takes the brings the ball back into play and Aimar looks to launch an attack.
  • 41'
    The ball is whipped in but Benfica manage to clear. Zenit retain possession, however, and continue to drive forward.
  • 40'
    Free kick to Zenit in a good position on the right wing after a foul be Emerson.
  • 38'
    The game has quietened down after a frantic 20 minutes or so. It has been an incredibly even match with possession being distributed evenly. Apart from the goals, there has no been too many glimpses at goal apart from a couple of long-range strikes.
  • 35'
    Benfica starting to impose their passing style on the match. They are not shy about committing men forward either. A really entertaining match so far.
  • 33'
    Benfica come forward in numbers and the ball comes to Pablo Aimar on the edge of the box, who lays a pass off for Matic, who comes steaming and to rifle a shot at goal but it goes wayward of the goal and does not trouble Zhevnov.
  • 31'
    Gaitan turns inside from the right an clips a lovely teasing cross to the back post. Zhevnov comes to collect but fumbles his catch! He has looked very uneasy in the game so far!
  • 30'
    SubstitutionRodrigo Pablo Aimar
  • 29'
    No, Rodrigo will not be able to continue. He attempted to soldier on but it was a nasty challenge from Bruno Alves. Pablo Aimar comes on as his replacement.
  • 27'
    Assist Tomás Hubocan
  • 27'
    Goal Roman Shirokov
    GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL FOR ZENIT!!! What an equaliser!!! Hubocan whips a cross into the centre of the box for Shirokov, who wonderfully opens up his right foot to guide the ball into the far corner! Lovely strike!
  • 26'
    Kerzhakov breaks away to the right and passes a neat ball into the feel of Shirokov who takes a good first touches and drives into the box but his half-volley goes well over the bar!
  • 24'
    Amongst the commotion of the goal, Rodrigo managed to shake off his injury and return to the game. Must have been an impact injury but he looks okay now.
  • 22'
    The Benfica goal has sprung Zenit into action! They are now moving the ball at a much quicker pace and have Benfica camped in their own half! If they started like this they may not be one goal down!
  • 20'
    Goal Maxi Pereira
    GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL to Benfica!!! Oscar Cardozo whips a free kick through the wall and Zhevnov fumbles his save! Maxi Pereira comes in to coolly slot home the rebound! Poor goalkeeping!
  • 18'
    Rodrigo is being stretchered off now. He landed on his hip awkwardly and it looks as if he may not be able to continue, bad news for Benfica.
  • 17'
    Yellow Card Bruno Alves
  • 15'
    Another very late challenge in the same area. This time from Bruno Alves on Rodrigo, who fell very awkwardly. The Portuguese earns a yellow card for his trouble.
  • 13'
    Yellow Card Luisao
  • 13'
    First booking of the match as Luisao brings down Fayzulin with a late challenge inside the centre circle. Probably a good foul to give away as Zenit looked dangerous going forward there.
  • 11'
    Zenit look the more comfortable side is possession at the moment. They are attempting to play the ball around but Benfica are doing well to stifle any potential attacks.
  • 9'
    Benfica break forward down the right wing through Maxi Pereira. The righ-back showed good pace to drive into the space and attempted to exchange a one-two with Rodrigo but the return pass sees possession go back to Zenit.
  • 7'
    Fairly scrappy start to the match. A lot of passes are going a stray as players attempt to rush attacks forward. Some patience is needed from both sides. Neither team has looked dangerous in the final third as of yet.
  • 5'
    Zenit enjoying a period of possession at the moment. It will be very hard for both sides to get the ball down and play attractive football as the pitch is in a bad way due to the weather.
  • 3'
    Benfica have started the match on the front foot. Nicolas Gaitan looks bright down the right-hand side and already earned his side a corner kick. However, it was easily cleared. This is Zenit's first competitive match in two months, so it may take them a few minutes to ease their way in.
  • 1'
    And we are off! The Champions League returned last night with Barcelona and Lyon picking up vital victories. Will it be Zenit or Benfica to take an important advantage into the second leg?
  • It is an extremely cold night in Saint Petersburg tonight. This must favour the hosts, who will be used to the chilly conditions.
  • Zenit are very strong at home against Portuguese sides, having won two matches and drawn one in their history. One of these victories came earlier this season in the group stage, when Luciano Spalletti's side defeated Benfica's rivals, Porto, 3-1.
  • Some history is being made tonight as this is the first time in history that Zenit have met Benfica in a European competition.
  • This is the starting XI of Benfica: Artur; Maxi, Luisão, Garay, Emerson, Bruno César, Gaitán, Matić, Witsel; Óscar Cardozo, Rodrigo.
  • The teams are in and this is how Zenit will be lining up tonight: Zhevnov; Anyukov, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Hubočan; Shirokov, Zyryanov, Fayzulin, Denisov; Kerzhakov, Kanunnikov.
  • I'm Martin Macdonald, and I will be reporting on the match this afternoon. You can follow myself and International on Twitter at @MartinMac1 and goal_intl so feel free to post your thoughts, feelings, and predictions on the match!
  • Hello! Welcome to's LIVE coverage of the UEFA Champions League knockout stage match between Zenit St. Petersburg and Benfica at the Stadion Petrovskij.