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UEFA Champions League

G S Pancypria Stadium (ATT 21,000) 13th September 2011 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: E Iturralde Gonzalez

Apoel Nicosia Apoel Nicosia vs Zenit St. Petersburg Zenit

Apoel Nicosia 2

G Manduca (73)
Ailton (75)

ft

Zenit 1

K Zyryanov (63)
B Alves (S/O 76)

Apoel make winning Euro start

Hosts came from 1-0 down to defeat Zenit

Last Updated: 13/09/11 10:33pm

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Apoel: Marcinho fights for the ball with Zenit's Igor Denisov

Apoel: Marcinho fights for the ball with Zenit's Igor Denisov

Apoel Nicosia made a winning start to their UEFA Champions League campaign in Group G as they came from a goal down to defeat 10-man Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 at home on Tuesday evening.

Konstantin Zyryanov gave the Russian champions the lead at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia just after the hour mark but the hosts netted twice in quick succession thereafter to garner all three points.

First Gustavo Manduca took advantage of a miskick from Helio Pinto to stroke home the equaliser on 73 minutes. Then just moments later Ailton put the Cypriot club into the lead that they did not relinquish as Zenit were reduced to 10 men for the last 15 minutes following the dismissal of defender Bruno Alves.

First half exchanges

The hosts were the first to threaten when Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev was forced to punch clear Marcinho's cross.

Malafeev then parried Ailton's shot from 12 yards as another of Apoel's Brazilian contingent tried his luck.

The Russian custodian was keeping his side on level terms and denied Ivan Trickovski minutes later.

Zenit finally got going, though, and Nicolas Lombaerts headed Roman Shirokov's left-wing cross wide at the far post.

But that was a rare moment of adventure for the visitors and Trickovski drilled an effort wide from the edge of the area at the other end.

The Cypriot side continued to dominate after the break and the lively Trickovski had another shot parried by the over-worked Malafeev.

Marcinho then fired over the top from long range before Ailton headed over from a Trickovski ball in.

Three quick goals

But Zenit went in front completely against the run of play in the 63rd minute. Danny played the ball in from the right and Zyryanov guided a low finish into the bottom right corner.

Suddenly Zenit were the side making all the running, Alexander Kerzhakov twice mishitting shots wide in quick succession and Danny having an effort blocked by defender Paulo Jorge.

But within the space of three minutes Apoel had turned the game on its head.

Manduca volleyed home a 73rd-minute equaliser from the left of the area before setting up Ailton to curl a second low inside the far post from 18 yards.

And things went from bad to worse for Zenit a minute later when Alves fouled Ailton and was shown a second yellow card.

The Russians poured forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages with Danny seeing a shot saved by Dionisis Chiotis and Viktor Fayzulin crashing a shot against the bar.

Fayzulin then crossed for Lombaerts who headed wide as Apoel held on for an important win.

Apoel NicosiaTeam StatisticsZenit St Petersburg
2Goals1
01st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target2
6Shots off Target10
3Blocked Shots6
2Corners4
17Fouls12
0Offsides4
4Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards1
84.7Passing Success76.8
14Tackles28
57.1Tackles Success71.4
53.1Possession46.9
53.3Territorial Advantage46.7

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