Two early goals from Malaga left the Russians on the brink of European elimination, but the home side showed composure to eliminate the deficit and claim a precious point.Zenit St. Petersburg came from two goals down to seal a 2-2 draw with Malaga on Matchday five, maintaining its hopes of Champions League progression.
Malaga raced into a two-goal lead with no more than 10 minutes played, with Diego Buonanotte and Sebastian Fernandez handing their side an early lead.
A romping start to the second half from Zenit saw the club grab a deserved lifeline courtesy of a Danny finish, and the St. Petersburg side completed a deserved comeback late on when Viktor Fayzulin emphatically rifled home.
With Zenit playing to salvage its European hopes and Malaga fielding a host of fringe players, the tie began in dynamic fashion. Both sides vied to dictate the tempo of the match, but it was the visiting side which drew the first blood in the eighth minute.
Seba raced past the right flank on a Malaga counter before whipping an inviting low delivery across the penalty area. Buonanotte calmly latched on to the pass, taking a touch before rifling an unstoppable shot past Vyacheslav Malafeev.
The keeper was spared no blushes moments later however, as the home side surprisingly found itself two down. Calamitous communication between the Russian and Bruno Alves allowed Roque Santa Cruz to pick up the ball yards from the goal. The Paraguyan made no mistake to pick out Miglierina, who curled a well-placed effort past the scrambling Malafeev.
Zenit maintained its vigor however, and had a strong appeal for a penalty from Hulk turned down shortly after the visiting side doubled its lead. The Brazilian was again threatening minutes later, curling a promising free kick inches past Caballero's post.
Zenit nearly cut the deficit in the 24th minute, when Nicolas Lombaerts was allowed to volley yards from goal. The Belgian's effort rocketed off the crossbar however, much to the frustration of his attacking teammates. Danny then spurned a glorious chance to pull his side back into the tie, after a powerful run and sumptuous pass from Hulk had put the midfielder in the clear.
Zenit continued to probe the Malaga back line, but failed to produce clear cut opportunities. Jeremy Toulalan protected his back four with confidence, but allowed Alex Witsel to volley from range as halftime approached. The Belgian's effort was wayward however, and Malaga went into the break good value for the two goal lead.
The home side came storming out of the interval, and wasted no time clawing back into the tie. Danny did well to control a Tomas Hubocan delivery, and finished coolly into the far corner on the half volley.
Zenit continued to drive forward and the Brazilian nearly leveled matters in the 50th minute, only to be denied by a much-busier Caballero. Aleksandr Kerzhakov then should have made it two for his side after he rounded the stopper to put himself in front of an open goal, but could only hit the side netting as the home fans looked on in disbelief.
The home side continued to hassle the Malaga midfield, and eventually found a deserved equalizer in the 86th minute. A goal-line scramble saw Danny step on the ball with the goal at his mercy only for Malaga's Oguchi Onyewu to parry the ball away from the net with a poor clearance. Substitute Fayzulin fired home the subsequent rebound.
Zenit went in search of a late winner as extra time loomed, but was denied by resilient defending from Malaga. The Spaniards consequently sealed their status as group winners, while the home side will hope for results elsewhere to go its way as it goes in search of a last-16 berth.
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