Zenit Saint Petersburg have collected their second home win in the UEFA Champions League after getting the better of Shakhtar Donetsk in Group G.
Both teams started nervously, with so much at stake for the champions of Russia and Ukraine respectively.
Zenit created their first scoring chance on the half-hour mark, but visiting keeper, Aleksandr Rybka, managed to save Igor Denisov’s shot and used his legs to cope with Konstantin Zyrianov’s rebound.
It was all Zenit in the last 15 minutes of the opening half. Danny, whose participation had been in question due to injury, rocked the post from a sharp angle. The Portuguese player then set up Aleksandr Bukharov, but Rybka somehow prevented the ball from going into the net after a close-range header.
After the inform Shakhtar keeper denied Roman Shirokov in first-half stoppage time, it seemed the teams would head for the break without goals.
But the hosts still had a couple of seconds remaining to take the corner. Fiktor Fyzulin whipped the ball to Nicolas Lombaerts, and the St Pete defender, finally, beat Rybka with a near-post header to make it 1-0.
The second half wasn’t as spectacular as the first. Shakhtar had more of the ball, but Zenit defended calmly, allowing the visitors to have just a single shot on target.
Alex Teixeira shot from outside the box, but home keeper, Vyacheslav Malafeev, had little trouble coping with his effort.
Zenit collected a well-deserved 1-0 win, much to the delight of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was in the stands – as well as the rest of the packed Petrovsky Stadium.
The Russian side have seven points in Group G and have a good chance of making it through to the play-offs with two games remaining.
Shakhtar are having a poor Champions League campaign and the Ukrainians are last in the group with only two points.
APOEL entertain Porto in Cyprus in the other Group G game on the night.
In Group H, Belarusian champions BATE Boriosov bagged their second point in the competition by holding Italian giants AC Milan to a 1-1 home draw.
The visitors took the lead through Zlatan Ibragimovic in the first half, but BATE equalized after the restart, with Renan Bressan converting a penalty.
UEFA Champions League’s Matchday 4 scores:
Valencia 3-1 Leverkusen
Genk 1-1 Chelsea
Arsenal 1-1 Marseille
Dortmund 1-0 Olympiacos
Zenit 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
APOEL 2-1 Porto
BATE 1-1 Milan
Plzen 0-4 Barcelona