Zenit Saint Petersburg have played a 0-0 draw against visitors from APOEL in the Champions League, despite the rowdy behavior of local supporters almost seeing the match cancelled.
The opening half lasted 49 minutes because fans detonated several smoke bombs, halting play at Petrovsky stadium.
And when the same thing happened ten minutes after the restart, German referee Felix Brych ordered the teams to return to their dressing rooms.
Zenit midfielder Roman Shirokov went to the stands to calm the crowd. His efforts were fruitless and only the involvement of coach Luciano Spalletti allowed the action to resume after a ten-minute break.
Shirokov was so outraged by the supporters’ behavior that he even called them “morons” in a post-match interview.
“The referee warned us that if the fans won’t stop burning flares, we’ll get a technical defeat,” he told NTV+ channel. “I went up to the fans, but we failed to find common ground. I asked a fan with a flare:‘Why are you doing this?’ And he answered: ‘I’m not doing anything.' What can you say? Those people are morons! "
As for the game itself, Zenit remained in control from start to finish, never allowing APOEL to land a single shot on target.
But the hosts once again suffered from a lack of so-called killer instinct, failing to score despite having plenty of chances.
Aleksandr Bukharov came closest to breaking the deadlock, but his second-half header hit the crossbar. On two more occasions, Zenit’s attack managed to beat Cypriot keeper Urko Pardo, but he was helped by his defenders, who kicked the ball clear of the line.
The draw sees APOEL coming up with one of the biggest sensations of the UEFA Champions League group stages as they qualify for playoffs with 9 points in the bag.
Zenit, who are a point behind, remain in second with one game still to play. The St. Pete side would need at least a draw at Porto on the final matchday to progress to the next stage.
The Portuguese side have 7 points after collecting a 2-0 win away at Shakhtar.
UEFA Champions League's Matchday 5 scores:
Zenit 0-0 APOEL
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Porto
BATE 0-1 Plzen
Milan 2-3 Barcelona
Marseille 0-1 Olympiacos
Arsenal 2-1 Dortmund
Valencia 7-0 Genk
Leverkusen 2-1 Chelsea