Spartak Moscow, who beat Ajax 1-0 on the road, became the only victorious Russian team in the first leg of Europa League’s Round of 16, with Zenit and CSKA suffering painful defeats.
CSKA Moscow 0-1 FC Porto
CSKA had very poor statistics against Porto before the match, losing twice and failing to score a single goal in their four meetings.
Leonid Slutsky’s men couldn’t break the sad habit at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Thursday.
Home strikers Vagner Love and Seydou Doumbia created enough chances in front of the Portuguese goals, but failed to find the net.
The Russian football season hasn’t yet started, no wonder the visitors saved more strength for the ending of the match, with Fredy Guarin blasting a splendid volley past CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev on 70th minute, 1-0.
CSKA coach, Leonid Slutsky, believes it was a lack of killer instinct which cost his team the win.
“The scenario of the game resembled the one of our Super Cup against Zenit. Again we created plenty of chances and demonstrated a high level of density in midfield, but unfortunately, once again suffered from lack of accuracy in front of goal. What I didn’t like was the fact that after we conceded it was our rivals who controlled the course of the game while we looked tired,” Leonid Slutsky told Sportbox.ru.
“Not everything is lost for us,” he added.
Ajax Amsterdam 0-1 Spartak Moscow
Ajax and Spartak wear the same red and white colors, so the Muscovites had to appear dressed up in unusual black uniform at the pitch of the Amsterdam Arena.
It seemed the visitors just couldn’t get used to the new outfit as they looked too shy in the first half, with Ajax enjoying dominance in possession and creating chance after a chance.
But a serious half-time talk with coach Valery Karpin seemed to be a serious confidence booster for Spartak as they produced a lot better game after the restart.
On 57th minute, Moscow team’s captain Alex escaped two defenders and fired an unstoppable curved shot from the edge of the box, giving Spartak the invaluable away goal.
All of Ajax attempts to save the game were prevented by visiting keeper Andrey Dykan, who coped with a number of difficult balls from Lorenzo Ebecilio, Demy de Zeeuw and Siem de Jong.
After the final whistle, the Spartak coach was far from being satisfied with his team’s performance.
“It's hard to comment on a game, in which your team has played how it should have for only 15 minutes out of 90. Fortunately, we managed to score failed to score and in the second half, when Ajax went all out attack, we had counterattacking opportunities. Unfortunately, we didn’t use them,” Valery Karpin said.
Twente 3-0 Zenit Saint Petersburg
Defending Russian champions Zenit, came to face FC Twente, who earlier knocked out another Russian club, Rubin, having more than plenty of injury worries.
With forward Alexander Bukharov, and midfielders Sergey Semak and Vladimir Bystrov all out, coach Luciano Spalletti only had 15 senior players to choose from.
Bloodless Zenit was no match for the Dutch champions Twente on the night, conceding three unanswered goals. Luuk de Jong got a brace and Denny Landzaat added another one to settle the 3-0 score.
Despite the big score, Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti belives it is not over yet of him and his men in the Europa League.
“I’ll be short in my comments about the match. We had seven or eight situations, like the ones in which they got their three goals, but [we] didn’t score even once… It`s a tough result, but I’m staying with my team, and I believe that we have a good chance of making the next round,” the Italian told Zenit’s official website.
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Manchester City
The biggest upset of the Europa League action happened in the Ukrainian capital. Dynamo, led by Russian coach Yury Semin, scored a goal in each of the halves to put Man City on the brink of elimination.
Captain Andrey Shevchenko gave the lead to the home side on 25th minute, while Oleg Gusev doubled their lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Dynamo manager Yury Semin was satisfied with the way his men played against the English powerhouse.
“We are very happy. It was a very difficult, but worthy of victory. The team played good football, the guys were pretty aggressive. We’ve made up a good lead going into the second leg. Special thanks to our fans, who supported us so well," he said.
And Semin’s counterpart, Roberto Mancini, promised to correct all the mistakes in the second leg.
“It’s not the best result, but we still have chances to progress. In Manchester, it’s going to be a completely different game. Today, we’ve made too many stupid mistakes and therefore conceded two goals,” Man City’s coach said.
The second leg of the Europa League’s Round of 16 are to take place on March 17.
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