Friday, June 6, 2008

UEFA Cup - Good job, Zenit!


Zenit's success triumph of soccer

Ozren Podnar reports...

A brilliant Zenit team became only the second European trophy winner for Russia after CSKA Moscow three years ago. Congratulations to Zenit, as their soccer was like a puff of fresh air: lightfooted, attacking and ambitious, unlike that of Glasgow Rangers, which reminded us of Greece from the 2004 Euro. And that should not be taken as a compliment.

At the City of Manchester, Zenit crowned their brilliant European season in which they overcame teams from the biggest leagues: Villarreal (1-0 and 1-2), Marseille (1-3 and 2-0), Bayer (4-1 and 0-1) and Bayern (1-1 and 4-0). The first leg against Bayer in Leverkusen, where the home team were thoroughly thrashed, opened everybody's eyes to the Russians' potential, and the later demolishing of Bayern delighted the fans everywhere thanks to an inspired and fast-paced play reminiscent of the wonderful Dinamo Kiev of the seventies and eighties.

In spite of the admiration for the Rangers' commitment and desire, the neutrals largely fancied Zenit, who did not allow the Scots to suffocate them as they had suffocated Panathinaikos, Sporting and Fiorentina with their 7-8 men defense.
Even without Pavel Pogrebnyak, this season's UEFA Cup's top scorer, the St. Petersburg team had enough explosive to penetrate the Rangers' stonewall twice. The first to do it was Igor Denisov after a nice interplay with Andrei Arshavin and the last bricks of the bunker were demolished by Konstantin Ziryanov in the last minute after a cross by Fatih Tekke.

As far as the Rangers are concerned, the finals in Manchester evoked memories from Barcelona 36 years ago. There Rangers played their previous European finals against another Russian squad, Dinamo Moscow, but then they prevailed by 3-2. The Rangers fans then also "prevailed" against the police at Camp Nou, which ultimately cost the team a two-year ban from Europe.

UEFA Cup finals

City of Manchester Stadium
Zenit vs Rangers 2-0 (0-0)
Scorers: Denisov (72), Ziryanov (90)

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