Zenit’s losing streak has continued, as the reigning Russian champions were destroyed 3-0 by Malaga, playing their debut game in the Champions League group stage.
Luciano Spalletti’s charges found themselves trailing 2-0 already by the 13th minute after goals by Isco and Javier Saviola. They had numerous chances to score later on but failed to finish them off, and Isco struck again in the 76th minute.
Malaga was supposed to struggle this season after a financial about-face by its Qatari owners led to the sale of stars Santi Cazorla and Jose Rondon among other players.
Instead, Malaga is undefeated after seven games to be second in the league and top of Group C in club football's top competition after AC Milan and Anderlecht drew 0-0 in the other match.
“Our defensive solidity is very important for us,” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said after the game. “We had a short lapse at the end of the first half, but in the second half we had more chances to extend the lead.”
“The team has been through a rough time, but that is what I am most proud of, that the team has seen its way through it,” he added.
As for Zenit, their last victory dates back to August despite them being royally strengthened by the likes of Hulk and Axel Witsel. They even haven’t scored a goal in the last two games.
“Malaga started the game very strong and we weren't prepared,” Spalletti said. “We are in a difficult period because my team doesn't fight on the pitch. The entire team needs to talk. We don't have the luxury of making any more mistakes.”
Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo injury time goal helped Real Madrid beat Manchester City in an amazing thriller at the Bernabeu stadium, 3-2, while Borussia Dortmund edged Ajax, 1-0, thanks to a late winner as well.
In Group A, PSG and Porto claimed easy wins against Dynamo Kiev and Dynamo Zagreb respectively, while Schalke 04 and Arsenal grabbed all three points in their voyages to Montpellier and Athens.