Champions League

Courtois hands point to Zenit

2013-11-26 22:07
Thibaut Courtois (AFP)

St. Petersburg - A huge error from Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois allowed Zenit St Petersburg to snatch a vital Champions League point against the high-flying Spaniards as they drew 1-1 in Russia on Tuesday.

WRAP: Champions League

An under-strength Atletico, already assured of a pass to the knockout stages as Group G leaders, had taken the lead eight minutes into the second-half when Adrian Lopez broke clear of the Zenit defence and finished confidently low past Juri Lodigin.

However, the Russians were saved 17 minutes from time when Courtois allowed teammate Toby Alderweireld's looping header to drop into his own net to end Atletico's 100 percent record in the Champions League so far this season.

The result does still dent Zenit's chances of progressing to the last 16 as they now need to beat Austria Vienna on matchday six and hope that Porto drop points against the Austrians later on Tuesday or when they visit Madrid in two weeks time.

With Atletico already assured of top spot coach Diego Simeone left a number of his first-team regulars, including Diego Costa, David Villa and Diego Godin back in the Spanish capital.

However, Zenit still struggled to breakdown Atleti's solid defence with Hulk's piledriver from the edge of the area that was beaten away by Courtois their most dangerous effort of the first-half.

Atletico had failed to take advantage of the space Zenit were allowing them to counter-attack into during the first period, but they finally got it right just after the break as Raul Garcia released Adrian and he kept his composure to slot home his second goal in as many games.

Garcia then nearly doubled the visitors' advantage as he rattled the crossbar, whilst at the other end Alexander Kerzhakov headed a great chance over from close range.

Zenit's equaliser was to arrive in comic fashion though as Courtois let Alderweireld's header go, believing it was going out for a corner, only to be left embarrassed when the ball dipped underneath his crossbar.

Garcia had another chance to win the game eight minutes from the end, but this time was denied by a smart low stop from Lodygin as the spoils were shared.

Read more on:    atletico madrid  |  champions league  |  soccer
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