Champions League

Anderlecht down Zenit

2012-11-07 08:44
Dieumerci Mbokani (AFP)

Brussels - Masked striker Dieumerci Mbokani returned from a broken nose injury to score for Anderlecht and give the Belgian champion a 1-0 victory over Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday in the Champions League.

The victory kept Anderlecht in contention to advance from Group C as it jumped over Zenit from last into third place.

Anderlecht got the breakthrough in the 17th minute when lone forward Mbokani set up a one-two with U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan in the penalty area and deftly lifted the ball over outstretched goalie Viatsjeslav Malafeev.

Zenit, who beat Anderlecht at home in their last Champions League match, never looked like a challenger and sorely missed Brazilian striker Hulk, who is out injured.

It was the first Champions League victory in almost seven years for Belgium's most famous club.

Malaga drew 1-1 at AC Milan to concede its first goal and drop its first points but still advanced to the knockout stage in its first Champions League campaign.

The Spanish side leads Group C with 10 points, double that of AC Milan. Anderlecht has four, one more than Zenit with two rounds remaining.

"With four points, we have all options open," said Anderlecht defender Guillaume Gillet. "Now Milan comes and we can give it our best."

Tuesday's victory confirmed Anderlecht's return to form. After two lopsided wins, Anderlecht is leading the Belgian league, even though it had not been able to show that form in the Champions League.

Needing a victory to stay alive with a realistic shot of advancing, coach John van den Brom took a big risk in sidelining striker Tom De Sutter, who scored five goals in the past two games.

Instead Van den Brom fielded Mbokani, who still needed to play with a face mask after breaking his nose last month. With his solitary strike, it paid off.

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