Champions League

Zenit down Benfica

2012-02-15 22:03
Benfica's Nicolas Gaitan, right, fights for the ball with Zenit's Roman Shirokov (AP)
St Petersburg - Roman Shirokov scored his second goal of the game in the 89th minute as Zenit St Petersburg beat Benfica 3-2 in the first leg of their round-of-16 matchup in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Maxi Pereira put Benfica ahead in the 20th, tapping the ball in after second-choice goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov spilled Oscar Cardozo's free kick, but Shirokov equalized seven minutes later.

Substitute Sergei Semak made it 2-1 with a backheel in the 71st.

Cardozo levelled for the visitors in the 87th after Zhevnov again failed to hold a shot, and the game appeared headed for a 2-2 draw until a defensive blunder by Pereira gifted Shirokov his second goal - and his fifth in seven Champions League games - from short range.

Zenit, making its debut in the knockout phase, was missing seven key players through injury and illness in its first game of the year. The Russian champions haven't lost at home in European competition since 2008.

The Portuguese club was previously unbeaten in the tournament and came through after finishing top of Group C, which included Manchester United.

After a scrappy start in freezing conditions at Petrovsky Stadium, the game kicked into life after Pereira's opener.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov came close with a volley at the back post and Shirokov fired over the bar in a flurry of action before the equaliser.

The Portuguese team struggled to keep Zenit out and started to threaten again only after playmaker Pablo Aimar replaced the injured Rodrigo on the half-hour mark.

Benfica, unbeaten this season in the Portuguese league, was the more stylish team in the second half as Aimar and Nicolas Gaitan tormented the home team's defence with slick ball skills.

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Fixtures
16 September 2014
Liverpool v Ludogorets Razgrad, Anfield 20:45
Benfica v Zenit St Petersburg, Estadio da Luz 20:45
Juventus v Malmö FF, Juventus Stadium 20:45
Olympiakos v Atlético de Madrid, Karaiskaki Stadium 20:45
Real Madrid v FC Basel, Santiago Bernabéu 20:45
Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal, Signal Iduna Park 20:45
Monaco v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Stade Louis II 20:45
Galatasaray v RSC Anderlecht, Türk Telekom Arena 20:45
17 September 2014
FC Bayern München v Manchester City, Allianz Arena 20:45
Ajax v Paris Saint Germain, Amsterdam ArenA 20:45
Barcelona v Apoel Nicosia, Camp Nou 20:45
FC Porto v BATE Borisov, Estadio do Dragao 20:45
NK Maribor v Sporting Lisbon, Ljudski Vrt 20:45
Roma v CSKA Moscow, Olimpico 20:45
Athletic Club v Shakhtar Donetsk, San Mamés 20:45
Chelsea v FC Schalke 04, Stamford Bridge 20:45
30 September 2014
CSKA Moscow v FC Bayern München, Arena Khimki 18:00
BATE Borisov v Athletic Club, Borisov Arena 20:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Porto, Donbass Arena 20:45
Sporting Lisbon v Chelsea, Estadio José Alvalade 20:45
Manchester City v Roma, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Apoel Nicosia v Ajax, GSP Stadium 20:45
Paris Saint Germain v Barcelona, Parc des Princes 20:45
FC Schalke 04 v NK Maribor, VELTINS-Arena 20:45
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