ST PETERSBURG - Roman Shirokov scored a
goal in each half to lead Zenit St Petersburg to a 3-1
come-from-behind victory over 10-man Porto in their Champions
League Group G match on Wednesday.
The Portuguese were forced to play with a man short for the
entire second half after defender Jorge Fucile was sent off just
before the break for picking up his second yellow card.
James Rodriguez had fired the visitors ahead in the 10th
minute, slotting home at the far post from a Hulk cross
following a quick counter-attack.
Shirokov levelled 10 minutes later when Porto keeper Helton
failed to hold on to a Viktor Faizulin cross, allowing the
midfielder to fire into an empty net.
Shirokov then made it 2-1 midway through the second half
after another smart move by Faizulin before Danny sealed the win
late on to put Zenit level on three points with Porto.
"We played a great game," Zenit's Italian coach Luciano
Spalletti told a news conference. "We looked a bit tight and
nervous in the first half but were able to calm down after the
interval and that allowed us to show our full potential."
"Porto were a man short but I think we would still have won
even if they had 11 players on the pitch."
Porto were already missing Colombian midfielder Fredy
Guarin, who had been handed a two-game ban after being sent off
in last month's European Super Cup clash with Barcelona.
They also lost Brazilian striker Kleber to injury in the
first half and were dealt a major blow when Fucile received his
marching orders from English referee Howard Webb.
"It's hard to say what would have happened if we'd played
with a full team," said coach Vitor Pereira who took over from
Andre Villas Boas after Porto won a treble of titles last
"We like to play an open game with lots of passes and
control the tempo but tonight our opponents forced us into
making too many mistakes."
Porto, twice European champions and winners of the Europa
League last season, looked more dangerous in the first half.
Alvaro Pereira fired a powerful shot into the top corner,
forcing Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev to make a diving save.
But the Russians, desperate for their first win after a
shock 2-1 defeat at APOEL Nicosia in their group opener two
weeks ago, pressed their numerical advantage after the interval.
Alexander Kerzhakov, joint top scorer in the Russian league
with 15 goals so far this season, wasted a great chance three
minutes into the second half when he blasted his shot against
the post from 10 metres with the goal at his mercy.
The home team, who were missing suspended Portugal defender
Bruno Alves for a red card in Nicosia, also had an effort
disallowed by Webb for offside against Kerzhakov before Shirokov
put them ahead just past the hour mark.
Zenit's Portugal winger Danny wrapped up the victory 18
minutes from time against his compatriots to hand Porto their
first defeat by a Russian team in European competition.
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