Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Zenit too strong for Rangers
May 15th, 2008 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[UEFA CUP] Nothing -- not a midnight prank that robbed them of a good night's sleep, the specter of Glasgow Rangers' manager Walter Smith's past close calls or the relatively unknown reputation of their club - could prevent Zenit St. Petersburg players from completing a remarkable run in the UEFA Cup by lifting the trophy.

Igor Denisov broke open a goalless game in the 72nd minute at a packed, rowdy City of Manchester Stadium, and Konstantin Zyrianov tallied in stoppage time to bring Zenit a 2-0 victory and pair up a second Russian title in the past three years. CSKA Moscow won the 2005 edition.

"Winning a prize like this does not come often in your life," said Zenit's Dutch coach, Dick Advocaat, who had replaced Smith at Rangers a decade ago after an initial stint ended in 1998. "We are very proud that Zenit won tonight and after the way we played in this tournament, we really deserved it."

Zenit, the defending Russian champion, reached the final by demolishing Bayern Munich, 4-0, in the semifinal home leg to go through, 5-1, on aggregate. In contrast to the rampaging Zenit style, Rangers reached the final by conceding just two goals in its eight games after being eliminated in the group phase of the Champions League. It had squeezed past Fiorentina on penalties, 4-2, in the semis following 210 minutes of goalless play.

Rangers contested the final in the midst of a staggering burden of league games and cup matches, both international and domestic. Russian officials juggled the league schedule to permit Zenit a weekend of rest prior to the final, but Scottish Premier League executives, who did push the back the end of the league program, weren't as accommodating.

Sportingly, Smith refused to cite the heavy load of matches, though his team visibly sagged but never stopped running as Zenit hit the post and finally scored in the second half. Rangers, which played its 64th match Wednesday, still has three league matches to play as it chases leader Glasgow Celtic, and meets Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup final May 24.

"I don't think that had any influence on the result," Smith said. "The players tonight were ready to play and we were just coming into the match when they scored and that first goal changed the whole complexion of the game."

Rangers hadn't won a European trophy since 1972 and kept pace with Zenit for most of the first half. But the technical superiority and greater energy of Zenit were rewarded when Andrei Arshavin and Desinov worked a cool give-and-go to provide the latter with an uncontested shot he crisply converted past helpless keeper Neal Alexander.
Four minutes into stoppage time, Zyrianov ran onto a long clearance to tuck away the clincher.

Skirmishes between rival fans broke out in the city center, where thousands had gathered to watch the match. Police had to move in after fights broke out when a video screen went dark. Thirty fans were arrested during the evening, and police reported that a Russian fan was stabbed in the back after the match. He was taken to a local hospital.

Tens of thousands of Rangers fans descended on the city without tickets but most were well behaved. In a statement, the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said, "GMP would like to stress the vast majority of supporters have behaved impeccably and came to Manchester clearly intent on enjoying the carnival atmosphere."

Three Rangers fans were detained after they set off the fire alarm at midnight in the Russian team's hotel.

"At 12 o'clock, the alarm went off, everyone ran out of their rooms, we thought we were on fire," a smiling Vyacheslav Malafeev told reporters while he clutched the large UEFA Cup trophy. I am glad we won the trophy for St Petersburg and also for the whole country."

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Dutch 'nightmare' follows risky pick    
To understand why Danny Blind got fired as Dutch national team coach, we'll put in perspective ...
MLS Power Rankings: Crew SC jumps up 11 spots    
Idle FC Dallas stayed No. 1 in Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings, but the Portland Timbers ...
USA-Panama: Americans not expecting another 6-0 win    
The USA men's team has never lost in Panama City and buoyed by a 6-0 stomping ...
Video Pick: All Pulisic touches vs. Honduras    
The 18-year-old Christian Pulisic scored and had two assists in the USA's 6-0 win over Honduras, ...
Video Pick: Ronaldo hits 70th with perfect free kick    
Cristiano Ronaldo's second goal, a low, far-range free kick off the inside far post, in a ...
Datebook: Hexagonal Matchday 4    
The USA will face Panama Tuesday with a chance to move back into the top three ...
Hex Files: Pinto stays on as Honduras coach -- for now    
Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto will stay on as head coach of the Honduran national team despite ...
What They're Saying: Adrian Heath    
"Every time they attacked it looked like they were going to score ..." -- Minnesota United ...
What They're Saying: Megan Rapinoe    
"I don't think there's any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else ...
Crowd Count: Three USL teams set records in openers    
Three USL teams set club attendance records on opening day, topped by the Richmond Kickers, who ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives