A man-of-the-match performance by Zenit St
Petersburg goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev earned the Russian champions a 0-0
draw at Porto on Tuesday that put them through to the last 16 of the Champions
League for the first time.
The draw means Zenit finish second in Group G on nine points, behind
surprise-package APOEL Nicosia on their head-to-head record after the Cypriots
lost 2-0 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk
Porto have to settle for a Europa League spot, ending third on eight points.
The Portuguese champions knew only a win would put them through but though
they commanded the game from the off they failed to find a way past the inspired
Malafeev, who had a night to remember.
The 32-year-old keeper made a series of good saves, denying clear-cut
chances for Djalma, James Rodriguez, Kleber and Hulk on a great night for his
"We missed goals and more goals," said Porto coach Vitor Pereira. "We showed
quality up front but lacked effectiveness and the passage of time favoured
Zenit. We leave the Champions League with the feeling of deserving to qualify,"
Zenit, who came from behind to beat Porto 3-1 in Russia, looked to have a
draw in mind as they kept their defensive shape despite Porto's strong start.
The hosts soon took control of midfield and fenced off Zenit's
counter-attack threat thanks to hardworking midfielders Fernando and Joao
Steady passer Moutinho put Angolan international Djalma through on goal
after five minutes but Malafeev set the tone for the night with an excellent
Zenit were toothless in attack and lacked any clear chances, struggling to
build up play from their half, but they held on stoically in defence to reach
the break with the scoreline that suited them.
"We had chances and kept trying but they just parked the bus in the back,"
said a frustrated Kleber.
Porto kept pressing forward in the second half but remained wasteful.
Hulk found space in the box and toe-poked the ball just wide of Malafeev's
goal from a tight angle, while James and left-back Alvaro Pereira also missed
It still looked like a matter of time before Porto would find a way through
but Malafeev was equal to everything they threw at him and Luciano Spalletti's
side held on for a memorable qualification.
"This is a big disappointment, we should have gone through to the last 16,
that was our ambition. We did all we could but things just did not go our way,"
The group stage exit will increase the pressure on Porto Pereira, who has
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