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UEFA Champions League
October 24, 2012
• Stadion Petrovskij, Sankt-Peterburg (St. Petersburg)
Referee: I. Bebek
• Attendance: 19500
A. Kerzhakov 72'
So not the greatest game you'll see on Matchday 3, but an intriguing one nonetheless, with plenty of questions to ponder for Spalletti and Co. ahead of their return trip to Belgium. That's all from me, but stick with Goal.com for live coverage from all of tonight's big games across Europe. Thank you, and goodnight!
So it's finished 1-0 to Zenit on a wet and windy night in St Petersburg. The hosts were insipid for most of the evening but got the breakthrough with a quick free-kick from Shirokov, as Jovanovic hauled down Anyukov and Kerzhakov dispatched well from the spot. The visitors spurned a host of chances and will feel hard done by not to leave with a share of the spoils, while Zenit, although disjointed and lacklustre in their display, have got points on the board in the Champions League.
90' + 4'
Hulk bursts clear on the counter but Deschacht tracks him all the way and tackles brilliantly. Huge chance for Hulk goes begging, but it matters not - the referee blows for full time!
90' + 3'
Chance for De Sutter - just wide! The ball is fired low across goal and bounces through to the far post where De Sutter waits, but he just failed to stretch far enough to connect and it's a goal-kick to Zenit. That could be that
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Tom de Sutter
90' + 1'
Penalty...no! Tom De Sutter goes down under pressure following Kanu's clipped cross but the referee books him for diving. Correct decision.
Into stoppage time, and Biglia has another free-kick from deep... but Malafeev gathers at the second attempt. Four added minutes to play!
Gillet's cross is plucked out of the air by Malafeev and Zenit counter again with Kerzhakov, but he takes the selfish option and, suffice it to say, his effort doesn't come off. Hulk was in acres of space had Kerzhakov chosen to pass it.
Alves heads away well to spark another Zenit counter. Hulk plays a clever one-two with Witsel and fires low across goal, the ball ends up at the feet of Kerzhakov but his effort his blocked at close range.
Hulk bends in a dangerous low free-kick and Alves is inches from connecting at the near post. Jovanovic brings the ball away on the counter but Alves is back to intercept his run and Criscito clears.
Chance - just over from Jovanovic! Iakovenko's free-kick is punched behind by Malafeev. The Ukraine attacker tries again from the corner, and the ball drops to Jovanovic on the edge of the box, and he fires a half-volley just past the angle with the goalkeeper scrambling. So close to an equaliser!
Half a chance for Iakovenko as the ball drops kindly at his feet, but the door is closed by Lomaberts inside the area. Biglia tries to keep the attack alive but the ball is cleared away.
Yellow Card Silvio Proto
Penalty shout for Anderlecht as Iakovenko goes tumbling under Lombaerts' challenge, but the referee waves away the protests. Replays show the defender did tug at him but Iakovenko was leaning into him rather heavily.
Super play again for Bystrov, worming his way past two challenges before being brought down by a third. Kerzhakov tries his luck from the free-kick, and rather wishes he hadn't. Bruno Aloves has entered the fray in place of Shirokov, meanwhile.
Iakovenko is on for Praet as Anderlecht look for a way back into this one. They could well be left to rue those missed chances at this rate...
Penalty Goal Aleksandr Kerzhakov
GOAL!!! Kerzhakov slams home the spot-kick! A bizarre string of incidents, as Zenit's quick free-kick is clipped to Anyukov inside the area where he is hauled down by Jovanovic, with most of the players not even aware that play had restarted. However, it was a definite foul, Kerzhakov sends the keeper the wrong way, and Zenit have a lead against the run of play!
Yellow Card Milan Jovanović
PENALTY FOR ZENIT!
Chance for Bystrov - over the bar! The substitute picks up Kerzhakov's reverse ball and moves into space on the edge of the area but he fires over the crossbar. He's looked lively since coming on, although compared to many of Zenit's players, that's not difficult.
Another chance for Bilgia to deliver a dangerous one as Jovanovic is barged from behind. The kick is aimed for Kanu, but this time it's overhit and sails behind for a goal-kick.
Chance for Zenit! Criscito plays a one-two with Bystrov and bends a dangerous cross right across the six-yard box, but there's no-one there to get on the end of it.
Great chance for Kanu! Another deep Biglia free-kick seemed destined for the big midfielder's head, but he fails to make contact and Malafeev punches clear. Kanu really should have done better there - any contact could have put his side in front.
Biglia flights a free-kick deep into the area and Lombaerts heads behind for a corner. The delivery comes to nothing and Hulk leads the counter-attack, but Praet holds up the burst forward and the visitors regain posession.
Jovanovic, meanwhile, has looked bright all night, and he creates half a chance for Praet as he tricks his way past Anyukov and chips the ball into the box, but his team-mate is well charged down. The visitors continue to look the more likely on the break.
It just isn't Hulk's night, it seems. Bystrov's hooked ball into the box arrives on the Brazilian's left foot, 20 yards from goal, and he skies his effort spectacularly. It's just not going the way of the home side.
Biglia drives forward and looks for De Sutter but it's poked away. Anyukov brings the ball downfield for Zenit but Semak is dispossessed. Zenit make their first change of the night, as Bystrov comes on for Faizulin - they'll be hoping the change might ignite something in this tepid display...
Hulk's effort is charged down by Gillet, and Faizulin's ball back into the area is cleared. Witsel then tries to play Faizulin through but he's penalised for a foul on Deschacht.
Yellow Card Marcin Wasilewski
Anyukov clips the ball to Hulk in the area, and his driven cross is blocked behind for a corner. The resulting delivery falls to Criscito who is clipped and wins a free-kick on the edge of the box. Wasilewski is booked for protesting.
Penalty shout for Anderlecht! De Sutter wins the ball out wide and plays it through to Jovanovic, but he takes a heavy touch and goes down under pressure from Hubocan. Referee rightly waves play on.
Hulk tries to burst clear down the right but Kanu makes a good sliding challenge. The Brazilian then picks up the ball in the centre and clips one over the top which is well cleared.
We're back underway in the second half - what can the hosts muster in the next 45?
So what are you expecting in the second half? Can Anderlecht and the lively Jovanovic make a chance count? Will Hulk provide a moment of magic? Will Kerzhakov ever hit the target? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @JoeWright004...
45' + 1'
And that, mercifully, is half-time in St Petersburg, and we're goalless here. It's been a tepid, timid affair so far, with Anderlecht spurning the best two chances of the half as Zenit have laboured to get any kind of momentum. Something has to give in the second period, you feel, as this result really won't help either side.
One minute of added time here...
Half a chance for Zenit as Criscito whips a dangerous cross into the box. The ball is headed away and picked up by Semak on the edge of the area, but his left-foot shot sails over the bar.
Hulk is well challenged by Wasilewski and he flicks out the most casual of kicks at the Anderlecht man as the play moves on. The merest of handbags and the full-back doesn't react, but it's a sign of the Brazilian's frustration so far this half.
A little piece of magic from Hulk, as he flicks the ball over his shoulder and dances past a challenge before Kanu nicks the ball off him on the edge of the box. Anderlecht counter and win a free-kick 20 yards out, but Jovanovic can only hit the wall and it goes behind for a corner.
Not much between the sides at the moment - lots of scrapping on half-way to keep hold of the ball in difficult conditions, with neither side willing to risk too much going forward. Long way to go, but it looks increasingly likely that one goal could settle this.
Half a chance for Kerzhakov again as he turns well inside the box from Witsel's pass, but Nuytinck recovers to shepherd the ball away.
Good spell this for Anderlecht - Zenit just can't clear their lines at the moment. The attack continues with a throw-in down the right.
Yellow Card Viktor Faizulin
Kerzhakov tries to improvise a volley but he can't connect properly and the ball runs tamely into Proto's hands. Fayzulin has become the first name in the referee's notebook tonight,as he hauls down Jovanovic in less-than-ceremonious fashion.
What a chance for Anderlecht! Jovanovic at the heart of it once more, as he drifts infield and slides the ball through to Gillet, who opts to turn inside Criscito and pass across goal and the ball is cleared. He had to shoot there - he was clean through!
Criscito and Hulk combine down the left and the Italian fires the cross in but Wasilewski clears. The ball comes straight back and Kerzhakov finds space to the right of the area, but he slices his shot wide of the post.
Some good work by Kanu allows him to feed Jovanovic, who carries the ball a good 15 yards before slicing a shot over the bar. Zenit did nowhere near enough to close the Anderlecht man down there - that could have been costly.
Wasilewski concedes a corner and Anderlecht only just survive the delivery, as the ball bounces around a number of legs in the box before being hacked clear. A moment later, Shirokov is played through but the flag is up on the far side. The visitors are riding their luck a little at the moment.
Hulk fires it - just wide!! He whips it across with that venemous left foot and it fizzes across the box and behind for a goal-kick, with no-one quite able to get a touch.
First range-finder from Hulk, as he receives the ball from a quick free-kick and drills low from fully 30 yards but fails to find the target. Given the conditions tonight, the Brazilian's shoot-on-sight policy might well end up paying dividends... A moment later, the striker is caught on the edge of the box and Zenit have another free-kick in a dangerous position.
Zenit get back on the attack with Hulk, who squares up his man before dirivng to the byline and cutting back right-footed but Proto was down smartly to gather. The game is just beginning to open up a little now.
Jovanovic - wide!! What a chance for Anderlecht! Jovanovic turned his man in the centre circle and burst towrds the area. He plays a delightful one-two with De Sutter and finds himself through one-on-one with Malafeev, but he drags his effort wide of the far post. Huge let-off for Zenit!
Kanu then notches Anderlecht's first attempt with an ambitious long-range shot which flies over the bar. From the goal-kick, he fouls Semak near half-way and Zenit regain possession at the back.
Kerzhakov - wide!! The Russia striker played it out wide to Hulk, who slipped the ball back through to his attacking partner who lashed a shot wide of the near post from the right of the area. Good move from Zenit.
Something of a steady tempo at the start here - it seems neither side is willing to risk too much going forward, knowing full well the damage a defeat could do to their chances of progression from the group.
Good interplay from Anderlecht but Praet's cross is fisted away by Malafeev. Meanwhile, the stadium announcer is still reading out the starting lin-ups - someone needs to tell him the game has been going for 5 minutes...
Semak is through... no! Offside! A lovely reverse pass from Hulk played the veteran in but he was just ahead of the last man. Decent start from the hosts.
And we're underway, with Zenit kicking from right to left...
The teams are out and ready in the teeming rain in St Petersburg...
Our expert went for a 2-1 home win in his pre-match prediction, but what are you expecting from tonight? Hit me up on twitter @JoeWright004 with your thoughts on the match!
And for the visitors Anderlecht: Proto; Wasilewski, Kouyate, Nuytinck, Deschacht; Bigila, Kanu; Gillet, Praet, Jovanovic; De Sutter. The Belgians are still without strikers Matias Suarez and Cyriac due to long-term injury, and will look to Tom De Sutter as the man to get them on the scoresheet for the first time this season in the competition proper.
First up, Zenit's starting XI: Malafeev; Anyukov, Hubocan, Lombaerts, Criscito; Witsel, Semak, Shirokov; Hulk, Kerzhakov, Fayzulin. Big nights tonight for summer signings Hulk and Axel Witsel, you feel, if the Russians are to get their campaign back on track.
A very good afternoon to you all, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE play-by-play coverage of Zenit St Petersburg v Anderlecht! Both these sides are desperate for a result after suffering defeats in their opening two Champions League fixtures, so there's plenty at stake in Russia for this one... Team news on the way!
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