Champions League

Hulk powers Zenit to victory

2015-09-17 07:28
Hulk (AFP)

Valencia - Two stunning strikes from Brazilian international Hulk guided Zenit St Petersburg to a 3-2 win at Valencia on Wednesday despite a spirited fight back by the Spanish side.

Hulk thumped home two powerful efforts to give the Russians a 2-0 half-time lead before Joao Cancelo and Andre Gomes hauled Valencia level after the break.

However, the home side's good work was undone when Axel Witsel struck the winner moments later to give Andres Villas-Boas's men the perfect start in Group H.

Zenit lead Gent and Lyon by two points after the Belgians salvaged a point with nine men in a 1-1 draw in the other match in the group.

"There was one team that went to attack from the first minute and that was us," said Valencia boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

"We were dominant, created a lot and played with both our heart and head.

"We weren't surprised because we knew Zenit had those characteristics, but they had three shots and scored three goals. Football is like that, they were clinical and we weren't."

Valencia had started the stronger as a Cancelo drive from distance deceived Yuri Lodygin and came back off the post.

However, the hosts were stung after just seven minutes by a flowing counter-attack from the Russian champions as Hulk received the ball on his favoured left foot and arrowed a shot into the far corner.

Valencia were dominant throughout with over 60 percent possession and 15 attempts on goal, but couldn't find a way through in the first-half.

And the hosts were left frustrated when Scottish referee Craig Thomson turned down a strong penalty appeal for a handball by Javi Garcia.

Zenit then doubled their advantage in spectacular fashion just before half-time when Hulk took aim from 25 yards and thumped the ball past the helpless Jaume Domenech.

Nuno made a double substitution at the break as Paco Alcacer and Gomes were introduced and both made their presence felt as the hosts roared back in the second-half.

Alcacer had a goal narrowly ruled out for offside before Cancelo did half the arrears with an intelligent hit from a narrow angle which caught Lodygin by surprise.

Gomes pulled a volley wide from the edge of the area as the pressure from Valencia continued to build.

And the Portuguese midfielder then levelled 17 minutes from time with a neat turn and shot that Lodygin should have made a better fist of keeping out.

Yet, just when it seemed Valencia were in pole position to complete a famous comeback, Zenit struck the winner as Witsel was left unmarked on the edge of the area and his low drive found the net via the inside of the far post.

 

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Stadium 19:55
Galatasaray v Club Brugge, Turk Telekom Arena 19:55
Juventus v Atletico Madrid, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Atalanta v Dinamo Zagreb, Atleti Azzurri d'Italia 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Real Madrid v Paris SG, Santiago Bernabeu 22:00
Red Star Belgrade v Bayern Munchen, Stadion Rajko Mitic 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiacos, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Valencia v Chelsea, Mestalla 19:55
Zenit St. Petersburg v Lyon, Saint Petersburg Stadium 19:55
Liverpool v Napoli, Anfield 22:00
Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund, Camp Nou 22:00
Slavia Prague v Inter Milan, Eden Arena 22:00
Genk v Red Bull Salzburg, Luminus Arena 22:00
RB Leipzig v Benfica, Red Bull Arena 22:00
Lille v Ajax, Stade Pierre-Mauroy 22:00
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Red Bull Salzburg v Liverpool, Red Bull Arena 19:55
Napoli v Genk, San Paolo 19:55
Ajax v Valencia, Amsterdam ArenA 22:00
Benfica v Zenit St. Petersburg, da Luz 22:00
Lyon v RB Leipzig, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Inter Milan v Barcelona, San Siro 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Slavia Prague, Signal Iduna Park 22:00
Chelsea v Lille, Stamford Bridge 22:00
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City, Maksimir Stadium 19:55
Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta, Metalist Stadium 19:55
Bayern Munchen v Tottenham Hotspur, Allianz Arena 22:00
Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus, BayArena 22:00
Club Brugge v Real Madrid, Jan Breydel Stadion 22:00
Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade, Karaiskakis Stadium 22:00
Paris SG v Galatasaray, Parc des Princes 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow, Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Saturday, 30 May 2020
TBA v TBA, Ataturk Olympic Stadium 02:00
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