Zenit’s Champions League quest continues

Zenit St. Petersburg have advanced to the Champions League playoffs with Group G winner APOEL after drawing 0-0 with FC Porto on the road.

Luciano Spalletti charges advisedly ceded territorial advantage to their opponents, increased defensive density and didn’t let the Portuguese side create any effective pressure in their box. Despite Porto dominating in possession and overall shots – 25 against Zenit’s three, – the teams were almost equal in total chances to score.

The draw in Portugal leveled Zenit with Group G surprise package APOEL, who lost to Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 at home, but the Cyprus side were still able to occupy the first slot as they had been more successful in their head-to-head games against the St. Pete side.

Elsewhere, inspired by Didier Drogba’s double, Chelsea rediscovered itsattacking flair to sweep aside Valencia and reach the knockout round.The Ivorian star scored after just three minutes, set up Ramires’ goal in the middle of the first half andthen rounded off a ruthless 3-0 victory in the second to ease thepressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Chelsea took top spot in Group E from Bayer Leverkusen, which finished
second after a 1-1 draw at Racing Genk.

Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille required two late goals to reach the last 16 as Group Frunner-up, winning 3-2 at Borussia Dortmund after having trailed 2-0. Greek champions Olympiakos were denied second place despite beating group winner Arsenal 3-1.

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