Zenit holds Malaga to 2-2 in Champions League
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -Zenit St. Petersburg came from 2-0 behind to draw with Malaga 2-2 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Malaga qualified for the last 16 in its first Champions League campaign two weeks ago, while Zenit's hopes in Group C depended on AC Milan not winning the late match against Anderlecht.
"We needed a point to take the first place in the group and we've reached our goal,'' Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We scored two quick goals in the first half and though Zenit put pressure on us and equalized in the second, we are satisfied with the result.''
Diego Buonanotte opened the scoring for Malaga on the visitor's first attack in the eighth minute. A minute later, Roque Santa Cruz stole the ball from goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev and passed it to Seba, who stunned Zenit by hammering the ball into an empty net.
Zenit was close to scoring in the half. Hulk curled a neat free kick over the wall of defenders only to shave the right post in the 15th. Eight minutes later, the Brazilian put Alexander Kerzhakov through into the box but the striker hit the outer side of the net.
Hulk then hit the crossbar in the 24th.
"It was the match in which we should have kept the balance between the attack and the defense from the very first minute,'' Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said. "But we could not keep that balance and follow the plan. We conceded the first goal after a counterattack and allowed the second one after a ridiculous mistake. But we managed to score twice in the second half and created numerous chances.''
Zenit was more aggressive in the beginning of the second half and Danny finally scored from close range to narrow the gap in the 49th.
Three minutes later, Kerzhakov broke into the box but failed to hit an empty net over goalkeeper Willy.
The striker was also too late connecting to a cutting cross into the box from Axel Witsel in the 72nd.
Danny was close to an equalizer in the 86th but failed to control the ball in a goalmouth scramble and stood inside the net when Viktor Fayzulin blocked the clearance and curled the ball back into the right corner of the net to level.
Zenit midfielder Vladimir Bystrov was red-carded after the final whistle for arguing with the referee.
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