Zenit beats Rangers to lift UEFA Cup

May 15th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Manchester, May 15 (DPA) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was one of the first to congratulate Dutch coach Dick Advocaat after his side Zenit St Petersburg beat Glasgow Rangers 2-0 to win the UEFA Cup Wednesday night. Putin phoned Advocaat shortly after the victory and told him that the coach had achieved a great thing for Russia.

“The prime minister said that he was very happy, and I said that I was also very happy,” Advocaat said.

Earlier, Zenit ground down resilient Rangers at the City of Manchester Stadium here.

Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyrianov stunned the massive travelling Scottish support with two clinically scored second-half goals to secure the club’s first European trophy with a 2-0 win.

During the match, police clashed with Rangers fans in the city centre after the breakdown of a giant screen, where tens of thousands of ticket-less fans were gathered to watch the game.

The City of Manchester Stadium was overwhelmingly in the hands of Rangers fans, with at least 30,000 of the 47,000-capacity crowd supporting the Scottish club, which was playing in its first European final for 36 years.

Several thousand more congregated outside the stadium without tickets, while the Manchester city centre was filled with raucous Rangers supporters.

During the game, Zenit had most of the possession and proved too strong for a Rangers side that had earlier been criticised for playing defensive football.

“It took a while to score because Rangers played a good defensive game, and if we had conceded a goal first we would have had problems,” said man-of-the-match Andrei Arshavin.

“I think we controlled the game from the very beginning and attacked more. Rangers had no chances in the second half, and when we scored the first goal I knew that we would win.”

Zenit, who went into the game as favourites, were first to settle and could have been in front as early as the fourth minute, but Arshavin fired his shot into the side netting.

The Russians continued to dominate possession without really threatening the Rangers goal, though Aleksandr Anyukov did force Rangers goalkeeper Neil Alexander into action with a fierce shot from the edge of the area shortly before the breather.

With Rangers starved of possession, chances were at a premium at the other end, with Steven Whittaker’s header going over the bar, virtually the only chance of note for Walter Smith’s side in the opening period.

Before the half came to a close, Rangers fans also suffered the fright of seeing Kirk Broadfeet seemingly handle the ball in the area, but referee Peter Frojdfeldt pointed for a corner rather than to the penalty spot.

The second half started at an increased tempo, with the first clear-cut chance falling to Rangers in the 53rd minute, when Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev blocked a shot from Jean-Claude Darcheville.

Zenit finally got the goal that all their possession deserved, when Denisov strode through the centre of the Rangers defence before sliding the ball past Alexander on the 72nd minute.

Zyrianov could have doubled Zenit’s lead minutes later, but his shot came back off the post.

The closest Rangers came to an equaliser was in added time when substitute Nacho Novo blasted over. However, there was still time for Zyrianov to make it 2-0 for Zenit, tapping the ball home after a slick counter attack.

Around 100 Zenit fans poured on to the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate the win, but match stewards quickly restored order to allow captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk lift the trophy in the presence of UEFA President Michel Platini.
DPA

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