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UEFA Champions League

  • December 6, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Estádio Do Dragão, Porto
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 46512
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Porto 0-0 Zenit St Petersburg: Staunch defensive display allows Russians to progress to knockout stage at expense of hosts

Porto 0-0 Zenit St Petersburg: Staunch defensive display allows Russians to progress to knockout stage at expense of hosts

The visiting side were able to brush aside an outstanding offensive display from the hosts to book their spot in the round of 16

A display that brought back fine memories from last season's Europa League winning campaign was not enough for Porto to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, as a 0-0 stalemate against Zenit St Petersburg at the Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday evening sees the Russians progress to the last 16.

Needing a victory to secure a spot in the next round, the home side applied pressure in the Russian midfield at the beginning of the match, barely allowing their visitors to breathe.  Two goalmouth opportunities, a strike from Djalma and a header from Hulk, showed the Porto’s intent early on.

Os Dragoes continued to blitz their opponents' goal when Djalma set up James Rodriguez on the edge of the 18-yard box.  The Colombia international hit a strike towards Vyacheslav Malafeev's goal, but the Russian keeper parried away, making his third save in the first 10 minutes.

Porto continued to tear through their competition, with their front three causing havoc, especially through the wing play of Djalma. Their midfield continued to hold 60 per cent of the total possession.

Playing without top striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov who was ruled out with a nagging ankle injury, Luciano Spalletti's visitors had trouble holding the ball up in Porto's midfield.  Relying on quick counterattacks with the intent of releasing Danny with a killer pass, the Russians could not unlock Porto's effective offside trap.

The second half seemed to begin differently as Zenit held a lot more possession than in the first period.  However, a Porto counterattack brought dominance back to the Portuguese side; a pacy run from James ended with the prodigy finding Hulk in the box.  The Brazil international crossed the ball dangerously across Malafeev's goal and narrowly missed a sliding Djalma.

Malafeev continued to keep his team in the competition after the experienced keeper made a brilliant save from a 25-yard strike from Joao Moutinho as Porto still could not find a way to open the scoring.  The custodian denied Porto once more, as a point-blank save from an acrobatic effort from James once again kept the Portuguese outfit at bay.

A scrambling Porto attempted all they could to best their Russian opposition, but fell apart near the end of the match and began to rely on long range efforts from Hulk, which all went wide, to threaten Malafeev.  They could do nothing for their knockout stage hopes as the Zenit defence kept goalless for the remainder of the match.

With the tie, the Europa League champions will have an opportunity to defend their crown as they have finished third in the group and have been eliminated from the Champions League.  Zenit still finds themselves will go through to the knockout phase in second place, behind group winners APOEL.

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