Zenit draw Liverpool in Europa League
Nyon (Switzerland), Dec 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti): Zenit St. Petersburg will play English giants Liverpool in the first knockout stage of the Europa League, while Rubin Kazan drew defending champions Atletico Madrid of Spain.
Zenit came into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Malaga and AC Milan.
Luciano Spalletti’s men face the top side in the competition’s history for the first time. Liverpool may rely their former Zenit centre back Martin Skrtel for inside information on the Russian champions.
Skrtel switched to Merseyside in 2008, just a few months before Zenit clinched the UEFA Cup for the first time.
Rubin, who qualified as group winners after a campaign that included a 3-0 win over Inter Milan, have possibly the toughest draw of all in Atletico, riding high in La Liga and fuelled by star striker Falcao.
The teams have never played, though Rubin have a reasonable record against Spanish opposition, with one win, two draws and one defeat, all against Barcelona.
Guus Hiddink’s Anzhi Makhachkala, meanwhile, drew relatively modest opposition in German side FC Hannover.
Anzhi finished second in Group A behind Liverpool after losing their final match against Young Boys and as a result have the disadvantage of playing their second leg away.
The final is at the Amsterdam Arena May 15.
Complete round-of-32 draw:
BATE Borisov vs Fenerbahce
Inter Milan vs FC Cluj
Levante vs Olympiacos
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Liverpool
Dynamo Kiev vs Bordeaux
Bayer Leverkusen vs Benfica
Newcastle United vs Metalist Kharkiv
Stuttgart vs Genk
Atletico Madrid vs Rubin Kazan
Ajax vs Steaua Bucharest
FC Basel vs Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Anzhi Makhchkala vs Hannover
Sparta Prague vs Chelsea
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Lazio
Tottenham Hotspur vs Lyon
Napoli vs Plzen