Zenit, Porto face off in de facto knockout Champions League clash

Zenit St. Petersburg clash with Porto on Tuesday in their last, and de facto knockout, Group G match in the Champions League.

With top-placed APOEL Nicosia already qualified for the latter stages, the second berth will go to the winner of Tuesday’s encounter in Portugal. A draw will favor Zenit, who lead Porto by a single point.

The Portuguese champions, who have not failed to make the knockout stages of the competition since 2006, seek retribution for a 3-1 defeat in St. Petersburg in September.

Both teams have stars sidelined. Zenit have a mini-crisis up front as Aleksandr Bukharov, the replacement for injured top scorer Aleksandr Kerzhakov, limped out of training late Sunday.

Zenit’s Portuguese midfielder Danny has been training separately in the run-up to the match but should recover, according to team bosses.

Porto, meanwhile, welcome back French defender Eliaquim Mangala from injury but are still without the creative trio of midfielder Fredy Guarin, Brazilian wingback Alex Sandro and Uruguayan winger Cristian Rodriguez.

Either team could dislodge top side APOEL, the first Cypriot team in history to qualify for the second half of the tournament, if bottom club Shakhtar Donetsk get a surprise win in Nicosia.


Leave a comment