Malaga draw gives Zenit hope
SAINT PETERSBURG (AFP) –
Already qualified Malaga were held to a 2-2 draw by Zenit St Petersburg here on Wednesday in a Champions League stalemate that kept the door ajar for the Russian side to progress from Group C.
Argentinian midfielder Diego Bounanotte and Uruguay’s forward Sebastian “Seba” Fernandez were on target for Malaga, while Portuguese winger Miguel Danny and substitute midfielder Vikotr Faizulin scored for Zenit.
The result left Malaga top of Group C with 11 points from five matches, while Zenit share third spot on four points with Anderlecht, who play Italian giants AC Milan later on Wednesday.
Zenit, who were in desperate need of a win to keep alive their chances for a place in the knockout stages, started in a lively fashion but it was Malaga midfielder Buonanotte who put his side in front in the eighth minute sending the ball home with an unopposed eight-metre shot from Seba’s right-handed cross from the edge of the box.
Seba made it 2-0 for Malaga just a minute later, firing home from just inside the box after Roque Santa Cruz intercepted Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev’s pass to Bruno Alves and made a precise feeder to the Uruguayan.
The hosts sent forwards Hulk and Alexander Kerzhakov into attack but they lacked accuracy, while Malaga ‘keeper Wilfredo “Willy” Caballero was in command of his net.
Danny reduced the arrears four minutes after the interval, when he received Tomas Hubocan’s pass into the area from the left and sent the ball into the net past helpless Willy from seven metres.
Three minutes later Kerzhakov missed a chance to level, sending the ball into the outer side of the net with a close-range shot after he outplayed Willy in the six-yard box.
The hosts, spurred on by a capacity 20,000 crowd at the Petrovsky arena, continued testing Malaga’s defence which held firm until 72nd minute substitute Faizulin saved the day for Zenit, firing into the net from 15 metres with four minutes to go.