Monday 18 December 2017

Shirokov's brace gives Zenit lead

TWO goals from Roman Shirokov -- the second with just two minutes remaining -- helped Russian side Zenit St Petersburg gain a slender 3-2 home win over Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match last night.

Oscar Cardozo had taken advantage of a mishap from debutant goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov to bring Benfica level at 2-2 just seconds earlier, only for Shirokov to round Artur and give the Russian side a precious lead to take to the second leg in Portugal in 19 days' time.

A superb goal from substitute Sergei Semak with 20 minutes left looked set to be the decider for the hosts after superb movement down the right flank.

Maxi Pereira had earlier put the visitors ahead after 20 minutes, the 27-year-old Uruguayan knocking in from close range after Zhevnov was unable to hold Cardozo's low free-kick.

The hosts were quick to reclaim the ascendancy, levelling just seven minutes later as Shirokov turned in a cross from Tomas Hubocan.

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