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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:20

Clinical Zenit take control

Match report: FC Paços de Ferreira 1-4 FC Zenit


A Roman Shirokov hat-trick helped Russian side FC Zenit, who fielded Portuguese international Danny and ex-Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel, take firm control of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie against Paços. 

With Paços' Estádio da Mata Real not UEFA-certified, Zenit weren't the only side playing away from home - Paços using Porto's Estádio do Dragão to host the contest.

With Costinha's re-located charges understandably pumped up for the club's debut in the competition, Paços started strongly, but saw the wind taken out of their sails just before the half-hour mark when Shirokov directed Danny's cross into the bottom left-hand corner.

Although André Leão levelled the scores after the break with a header, Paços were only on level terms for two minutes before Shirokov struck again, a late Matias Degra own goal and a delightful third from Shirokov ensuring that the Russian side – bidding for a fourth group stage appearance – have the upper hand ahead of next week's return.

Oliveira goes close

A high-tempo start saw Sérgio Oliveira try his luck from distance as Paços came out of the traps with attacking intent: Oliveira's effort drawing a smart stop from Zenit 'keeper Yuri Lodygin.

The 21-year-old Oliveira went close again soon after with a swerving effort that whistled just wide, but the visitors took the lead in the 27th minute. Portuguese international Danny was central to the goal's creation: racing down the left and sending over a low cross which Shirokov converted into the bottom corner.

Paços dangerman Oliveira and Shirokov exchanged attempts at goal after the re-start before Costinha's side forced their way back into the contest with a 58th-minute equaliser. A slice of luck was involved in the goal, as Ricardo's header deflected off Shirokov before falling nicely for André Leão to head in.

Late goals hurt Paços

With Paços back in the tie, Portuguese hopes regarding the possibility of an upset started to rise. However, Zenit quickly put paid to such aspirations, as a corner evaded the Paços defence at the near post and left Shirokov the easy task of knocking home from close range.

Paços doggedly stuck to their task and Oliveira went close again before Lodygin pulled out a terrific stop to keep out a Carlão header.

Zenit showed a clinical touch to make their hosts pay for such missed opportunities: Aleksandr Kerzhakov's curling free-kick coming back off the crossbar and hitting 'keeper Degra before rolling over the line.

The Russians put the icing on the cake of a ruthless performance in the 90th minute when Shirokov capped a fine individual display with a rocket of strike into the top corner.

After an efficient night's business, Zenit will take a three-goal cushion back with them to Russia leaving Paços with the proverbial mountain to climb.

Degra, Romeu, Leão, Irobiso (Carlão), Miguel (Vitor), Hurtado, Santos, Ricardo, Oliveira (Manuel José), Rodrigo Antônio, Filipe Anunciação (c)

Lodykin, Lombaerts, Danny (Mogilevets), Kerzhakov, Hubocan, Shirokov, Zyryanov (Tymoshchuk), Smolnikov, Anyukov, Witsel, Bystrov (Arshavin)

[0-1] Shirokov 27'
[1-1] Leão 58'
[1-2] Shirokov 60'
[1-3] Degra (og) 84'
[1-4] Shirokov 90'

Comments (3)
No surprise
3 Wednesday, 21 August 2013 18:23
I did believe that Pacos had a chance.. as did Braga last year in their matches against Man Utd had they not blown it in the last quarter.

Similarly, Pacos blew it here in the late stages of the game.

The technical ability and passing accuracy from both teams left much to be desired especially Zenit with their 20x budget size.

Looking at the goal that made it 2-1.. the ball travelled without a touch from the corner kick to wide open Shirokov for a tap in. Incredible. Zenit's 3rd was dumb luck and just cruel.

The fair result would be 2-1 Zenit or a 2-2 draw keeping things open for the second leg.

Well.. who's excited for Europa league?
2 Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:58
They let go of Fonseca too soon, would´ve been a good chance to prove himself.
Did anyone think that Pacos had a chance?
1 Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:18
I give all the credit in the world to Fonseca and last season's squad for what they were able to accomplish. They were able to hold off a very experienced Braga squad, in order to nab third.
This accomplishment would normally be great for a league, in showing how competitive and established it is. Sadly, Pacos just don't have the resources to maintain a competitive level. Even with that run, Pacos had horrible attendance numbers all campaign. This transfer window, instead of building on last season's fortune, they have sold off players and manager.

Yesterday a measly 5,000 showed up for the match.
I hope that management has been able to take the funds and use them to secure the clubs future. I don't want to see another Leiria or Estrela Amadora.
Now we can only hope that they are able to get something done in Europa. Highly doubt it.

On a side note, I still say that Braga has gone and wasted a wonderful opportunity. They've sold off commodities, in my opinion, too soon and too cheaply and haven't brought in any new ones.

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