Apoel make winning Euro start
Hosts came from 1-0 down to defeat Zenit
Last Updated: 13/09/11 10:33pm
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 Nicosia||Team Statistics||Zenit St Petersburg|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||10|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 13th Sep - Group E
Chelsea2 - 0Leverkusen
Genk0 - 0Valencia
Tue 13th Sep - Group F
Olympiakos0 - 1Marseille
B Dortmund1 - 1Arsenal
Tue 13th Sep - Group G
Apoel Nicosia2 - 1Zenit
FC Porto2 - 1Shak Donetsk
Tue 13th Sep - Group H
Barcelona2 - 2AC Milan
Plzen1 - 1BATE Borisov
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Zenit St. Petersburg||2||4|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|1||Paris St Germain||2||4|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H