Zenit Knocked Out Of EL: Zenit 2 – 2 Sevilla

Europa League Quarterfinals Second Leg
April 23, 2015
Zenit 2 – 2 Sevilla
Goals: Rondon 48, Hulk 72 – Bacca 6 pen, Gameiro 85
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Att: 21000

Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Lombaerts, Criscito – Javi Garcia, Witsel, Danny (c) – Hulk, Rondon (83 Kerzhakov), Shatov
Sevilla: Beto – Coke, Pareja (21 Iborra), Carrico, Tremoulinas – Krychowiak, Mbia, Aleix Vidal, Banega, Vitolo (90+2 Denis Suarez), Bacca (75 Gameiro)

Zenit lost the first leg 1-2 and that was a very good result especially because of the away goal they scored, so there were some hopes of progressing to the next stage at the expense of the current EL trophy holders Sevilla. The hosts had an important missing though, defense stalwart Garay being suspended for this match.

        Shatov - Rondon - Hulk
            Danny - Witsel
             Javi Garcia
Criscito - Lombaerts - Neto - Smolnikov
               Lodygin

Luis Neto conceded a foolish unneeded penalty just about 5 minutes into the game. Neto of course is the weakest link in the Zenit defense so this error came as no surprise. There were doubts if there actually was a penalty but the ref pointed to the spot, and even if it wasn’t that does not excuse Neto’s stupid challenge. Bacca converted. No more goals in the first half despite both sides having chances.

In the second half, Sevilla goalkeeper Betu gifted the hosts two goals. 3 minutes after the restart he spilled an easy cross and Rondon was on hand to tap the ball in. After 72 minutes Hulk equalized the aggregate score (3-3) with a wonderful strike from the touchline some 40 meters from goal, lobbing Beto who was caught out of position. Unfortunately, wonderful individual goals are no good substitute for the reliable team play in attack. With the game heading towards the extra time, Zenit pushed forward looking to get the winner but the visitors caught them on a counter attack and Gameiro beat Lodygin with a firm shot from within the area.

Excellent football in both legs and it was also very entertaining. Sevilla were stronger and deservedly went through to the semifinals.

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