Zenit Champions League campaign ends with hammering
Before the game Real Madrid had already guaranteed themselves a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, while Zenit, who were sitting third in the group, had booked their place in the UEFA Cup.
Nevertheless the two teams had something to play for. For Zenit players it was an opportunity to play in the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium. It was the final match before a break for the Russian team and the last game in a Zenit shirt for the club’s star, Andrey Arshavin. What’s more, according to the latest reports in the European sports press, there’s a distinct possibility that his next club will be none other than Real Madrid. So Arshavin was eager to have a great game against his possible future team-mates.
Real were also motivated as it was their first match under new coach Juande Ramos, who took over only on Tuesday.
Real started to press from the very beginning, while Zenit had some good chances on the break. It was the home side that opened the scoring after 25 minutes, but not without the help of the Russian keeper, Vyacheslav Malafeyev. He tried to take a cross but dropped the ball at the feet of Raul, who made it 1-0.
The Spanish giants continued to dominate the game in the second half. Zenit, without Arshavin, who was substituted by Dick Advocaat during the break, just couldn’t cope with the pace of Real’s attacks. The score became 2-0 after 50 minutes, when Arjen Robben flipped the ball over Malafeyev, and seven minutes later Raul added the third.
Zenit tried to get a consolation goal, but failed to do so, with Fayzulin’s shot hitting the crossbar.
This year saw Zenit playing in the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. The Russian team earned five points in the group stage, finishing third behind Juventus of Turin and Real Madrid.