A furious start in Petersburg
Zenit coach Luciano Spaletti changed his squad on 5 positions in comparison to their last home match. Ansaldi, Hubocan, Zyryanov, Shirokov and Kerzhakov made place for Neto, Anyukov, Arshavin, Shatov and Rondon. With a 4-1 loss agaisnst Austria Vienna in the last group match and 6 weeks of preparation without an official match, the performance level of Zenit was hard to measure for Klopp and his inner circle.
The fact that Petersburg was the first club ever to proceed into the knockout phase of the Champions League with only 6 points in the table however indicated that the Russians were not acting at their maximum at the moment.
But after the weak performance in Hamburg, coach Klopps major problem was the rehabilitation of his own team. Kehl and Reus started for Bender (inflammation of the pubic joint) and Aubameyang (bench). Hummels tried his best to become fit in time, but the time was simply not enough.The Zenit players in the blue jerseys had their last match in the middle of December 2013. No reason to underestimate a squad with several international superstars like Hulk or Arshavin: „This match is a way too important to look like a dying duck now“, stated midfielder Sahin before the match. Lets see how this statement manifested on the pitch in the Petrovski Stadium.
Quick Start in Russia
The Westphalia Express started rolling with high speed. Fulminant pressing overchallenged the Russian defensive line completely. Already in minute 4., this high effort paid off. Reus with the turbocharger against Criscito made his way into the box. Although being fouled several times, the German national could forward the ball in the last possible moment to Micky who was positioned crossways and finished off after a fast turn (4.).Just a minute later, it clattered again. And again it was the agile acting Reus. This time Mkhitaryan initiated with a nice flat cross from the right to Großkreutz in the centre. Großkreutz dripped off the ball for Reus who took his left outside for the 2-0 lead (5.). Zenit still seemed to be in the dressing room. More than a weak shot from Hulk, who tried a lot on his own, could not be recorded from the blue jerseys in the first half (27.).
Borussia continued their intensive pressing and captured several balls but couldn’t manage to hit the last deadly pass. As a consequence, a shot from Kehl and a direct free kick by Reus was the only mentionable actions before the half time whistle (37., 38.). With “just” a 0:2 deficit, Zenit went into the catacombs.
One down - so what?Even in the second half, Borussia did not give rise to doubts that they wont leave St. Petersburg as winners this evening. Exactly like the first half, Dortmund continued to put pressure on the Russian defense. Mkhitaryan captured the ball and forwarded it to Robert who banged it on the goal from a sharp angle. Goali Ldygin reacted with brilliant save (47.). Nevertheless, the Russians made a much more alert impression than in the first half. They disturbed the Borussian’s build up a way earlier and made themselves more room through long passing sequences. And suddenly it happened: Rondon approached freely in front of Roman after receiving a lob over the black and yellow defence. Schmelzer could not clear the situation properly so that Rondons shot hit the left post. Confusion in the box, via detours the ball landed in front of Shatov who hammered it into the net from 10 meter distance (58.). But not today! After a really short shocked phase, Borussia had the proper formula to react: Lewandowski made Piszczeck going the long way along the right wing, the Polish teammate then showed why he was so severely missed the last weeks. A brilliant pass back to Robert enabled the striker to finish off from short distance (61.). However, the confident two-goal advantage did not last a long time. The attempt of Fayzulins could not be cleared in time – penalty for St. Petersburg. The Brazilian international Hulk left Roman no chance and smashed the leather under the crossbar (69.).
The game was now an up and down with the better end for our Borussia: Reus served Lewandowski after a strong tackling in the midfield and Robert “icecold” with a flat shot in the corner for the 4-2 final result (71.).With 4 away goals, Borussia has a promising position to proceed to the next round. Our offensive line showed a really good, encouraged performance with Marco Reus as man of the match. The defence however remains a matter of concern. Despite the dominant performance, Borussia appeared a little bit careless in case of the goals against us. Ten out of the last eleven champions league matches could not be won without one. Approaching the “hot phase” of the Champions League competition, this carelessness has to stop in order to make a back-to-back appearance in the final this season.
But lets see step by step where the journey will end. At the moment, the squad proved moral after the weak performance in Hamburg and defeated an individual strong squad. The next task is now to beat Nuremberg in our lovely Westfalenstadium, the return match against Zenit takes place on the 19th of March.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Line Up: Lodygin - Anyukov, Neto , Lombaerts , Criscito - Witsel , Fayzulin - Hulk, Shatov, Arshavin - Rondon
15. Tymoshchuk for Arshavin
84. Smolnikov for Anyukov
84. Kerzhakov for Fayzulin
Bench: Malafeev (Tor), Hubocan, Lukovic, Zyryanov
Line Up: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, M. Friedrich , Sokratis , Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Reus, H. Mkhitaryan, Großkreutz - Lewandowski
70. Aubameyang for H. Mkhitaryan
85. Hofmann for Reus
90. + 1 Durm for Großkreutz
Bench: Langerak (Tor), Sarr, Jojic, Schieber
0:1 H. Mkhitaryan (4., Reus)
0:2 Reus (5., Großkreutz)
1:2 Shatov (57., Rondon)
1:3 Lewandowski (61., Piszczek)
2:3 Hulk (69., Penalty, Fayzulin)
2:4 Lewandowski (71., Reus)
Zenit: Anyukov (1), Fayzulin (2)
Dortmund: Piszczek (1)