Home success: two goals and transfer of Azmun helped Zenit to win Fenerbahce in the 1/16 finals of the Europa League
Zenit in the second leg of the Europa League final defeated Turkish Fenerbahce and advanced to the next round of the tournament. The meeting was held in St. Petersburg and ended with the score 3-1. Double and an assist on his own account recorded the Iranian striker Zenit Serdar Azmun. The author of another scored ball was the Russian midfielder Magomed Ozdoev.
After losing the first match of the 1/16 finals of the European Football League, Zenit was in an extremely difficult position. In the second match, they needed not only to beat Fenerbahce, but to score at least two goals against the opponent. At the same time, it was necessary to act extremely strictly in their own half of the field, because any misfire in the defense could further complicate the situation. In this case, the Turks would have a goal in a foreign field, and the Petersburgers would have to win with a goal difference of two goals.
The task of Zenit was also complicated by the absence of a number of key players in the blue-white-blue composition. Because of injuries, several players from the center line of the field missed the first match, including Daler Kuzyaev, Alexander Erokhin, Oleg Shatov and Christian Noboa. They all didn’t have time to recover for the return match, and the most experienced midfielder, Claudio Marchisio, added to the Zenit hospital. As the club's mentor Sergei Semak said during the press conference, the Italian had a relapse of the old injury.
On the eve of the game, the head coach of the Turkish team Ersun Yanal openly declared that his players were not going to lock themselves in defense for the full 90 minutes of the meeting. According to the expert, “yellow canaries” intend to once again demonstrate their strongest qualities and win at Gazprom Arena.
On Thursday, February 21, at the stadium in St. Petersburg, we tried to provide maximum comfort for both players and spectators and decided to play with the roof closed. Perhaps it was this that had a favorable effect on the attendance of the meeting - more than 50 thousand fans came to support their favorite team. The Turks did not remain without their loyal fans - 400 people came to the Northern Capital.
Compared to the first match, Semak made one change in all three lines. In the defense, instead of Elmira Nabiullina, Igor Smolnikov appeared, which is why the nominally right back Alexander Anyukov was forced to move to the left flank. In addition, the Zenit coach chose to play in an attacking manner and from the first minutes he released three forwards to the field. In a couple to Artem Dzuba and Sebastian Driussi added recruit Serdar Azmun. A place in the center of the field was taken by defensive midfielder Magomed Ozdoyev, who was called upon to destroy the opponent's attacks.
But already in the fourth minute, the midfielder of the Russian team demonstrated that he is able to act effectively not only in defense, but also in attack. Assault attack began on the left flank. Driussi freely received the transfer to the edge of the field and made a throw into the penalty area, after which two ex-Rubin players took the lead. From the first attempt, Azmun was unable to tame the ball, but from the second he made a discount on the incident Ozdoev. Magomed effectively struck in the fall and chalked up the first goal as part of the team from St. Petersburg.
This success allowed Zenit to feel its game. The home team increased the pressure on the opponent even more and in the 37th minute forced the Fenerbahçe fans to clutch at the head. Blue-white-blue did not reinvent the wheel and conducted an almost exact copy of the attack, which led to the first scoring. Driussi also performed a cross from the left flank, however, this time he sent the ball astride. Azmun broke away from the defender and with an elegant nod of his head left out of the work of the goalkeeper Harun Tekin’s “yellow canaries”, excluding the possibility of transferring the meeting to extra time.
The advantage of two goals completely satisfied the “Zenith” and guaranteed him access to the 1/8 finals of the Europa League. Petersburgers were already ready to go to the protection of their own possessions, but before they had time to do it properly, Fenerbahçe reduced the difference in the account. Two minutes before the end of the first half of the first half, Mehmet Topal received the ball at the border of the penalty and played a brilliant leading shot. Andrei Lunev in a desperate jump tried to save the gate, but could not fend off the shot of the Turk.
After the break, the scoreboard forced Zenit to go forward, but the first 15 minutes of the second half were dictated by the Turkish team. Blue-white-blue were in a state of groggy and only meant pressure, allowing the opponent to roll the ball under the whistle of the home stands. Semak promptly responded to the situation on the field and decided to revive the game, firing on the field instead of Ernani fresh Robert Mac.
After the appearance on the field of Slovak Zenit resolutely changed and in a few minutes created at once three dangerous moments at the gates of the enemy. It is noteworthy that Azmun took direct part in each of them. First, the Iranian won the fight on the second floor and struck his head, and then noted with an aimed long-range strike. Closest to the goal the hosts got to the 68th minute. Serdar took advantage of the mistake of Andre Aiju and brought all the same Mac one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but he could not beat Tekin. The goalkeeper responded and in a spectacular jump fished the ball out from under the crossbar.
But after eight minutes, the efforts of the Petersburgers were rewarded. “Zenit” had a smashing counterattack, and Azmun was again on the edge. He received the transfer from Dziuba, pushed aside Topal from the ball and noted the double of his first official match at the team's home stadium.
Turkish football players were so demoralized by the third goal conceded that in the remaining time they couldn’t carry out a single full-scale attack on the opponent’s goal. Even the entrance to the field of Islam Slimani did not help, the exact blow of which prevented the Russian national team from reaching the playoffs of the 2014 World Cup. Algeria did not remember anything dangerous, and the efforts of ex-Chelsea footballer Victor Moses did not find support from their partners. Zenit confidently brought the meeting to victory and advanced to the next round of the Europa League.