Zenit St Petersburg have beaten 10-man Porto 3-2 in the UEFA Champions League to deliver the Portuguese side first ever defeat against Russian opposition.
Porto arrived in St Pete knowing Russia is a happy hunting ground for them as the club’s four previous trips to the country had all ended in triumph.
Zenit, meanwhile, needed to get back on track before their home fans after a shock loss to APOEL away in Cyprus on the opening matchday.
But it was Porto who took the lead after just 10 minutes. A well-executed counter-attack saw Hulk finding James Rodriguez at keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev’s the far post to open the scoring.
The hosts needed just ten minutes to get back into the match. Viktor Zayzulin’s cross was blocked by Portuguese keeper, Helton, but Roman Shirokov was first to the rebound to make the score 1-1.
It was an equal game in first half before Fucile let his Porto partners down by collecting a second yellow for an unnecessary hand ball in stoppage time.
Zenit took full advantage of their extra man after the restart. The Russian attacks followed one after another.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov hit the post, than had his goal disallowed after a contentious offside call, before Shirokov finally broke the Porto curse.
The Zenit midfielder nearly tore the net after controlling Fayzulin’s 63rd minute free-kick to score his second of the game and put the hosts in front 2-1.
In 70th minute, Danny was happy to upset his countryman and put the result of the match beyond doubt – 3-1.
“At half-time I told the players that if they play with more calmness it will be easier,” Luciano Spalletti, Zenit coach, told UEFA’s official website. “At half-time I told the players that if they play with more calmness it will be easier. This is exactly what happened. Porto is a great club, but we pressed hard in the second half and did not let them show their best.”
The scorer of Zenit’s two goals, Roman Shirokov, stressed that it’s not his individual skills, but great team play, which helpedhis team win.
“No, I don’t feel I am the hero of the night,” he said. “I think I was just lucky to score both goals. Our defense did very well, it was the foundation of our success.”
Zenit collect all three points to close on Porto in the Group G standings.
Meanwhile, APOEL have taken the group lead, having four points after an away draw at Shakhtar Donetsk. Ivan Trickovski gave visitors the lead on 61st minute, with the Cypriot’s goal coming despite the course of play.
Shakhtar wasted no time in equalizing as three minutes later Jadson made it 1-1, coming on the end of Willian’s cross, but that was all the Ukrainians could achieve on the night.
UEFA Champions League’s Matchday 2 scores:
Leverkusen 2-0 Genk
Valencia 1-1 Chelsea
Marseille 3-0 Dortmund
Arsenal 2-1 Olympiacos
Zenit 3-1 Porto
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 APOEL
BATE 0-5 Barcelona
Milan 2-0 Plzen