Zenit 1-2 Benfica (Agg: 1-3): Benfica through to Champions League quarter-finals
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 09/03/16 7:50pm
Benfica booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after two late goals secured a 2-1 second-leg win over Zenit.
Nicolas Gaitan cancelled out Hulk's opener on the night five minutes from time to leave Zenit stunned, and substitute Talisca won the match with the very last kick in Saint Petersburg to claim a 3-1 aggregate win.
Benfica are through to the last eight for the first time since 2012, joining Real Madrid and Wolfsburg in next week's draw.
Benfica took a 1-0 lead into the Petrovsky Stadium from the first leg, and the second leg continued as a cagey affair with few chances.
But in the fourth minute, Benfica nearly scored through Jonas whose free-kick was tipped over the bar by Yuri Lodygin.
For Zenit, their best opportunity of the half fell to their powerful forward Artem Dzyuba who reached a Danny flick-on and looked ready to slot home, but Benfica's second-choice goalkeeper Ederson, in for the injured Julio Cesar, punched the ball away.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes of the second half, Andre Villas-Boas made two substitutes which saw Zenit apply the pressure on their Portuguese opponents.
And in the 69th minute, Zenit levelled the tie through Hulk after former Chelsea winger Yury Zhirkov burst past Nelson Samedo and crossed into the middle for the Brazilian to nod home from point-blank range.
Just minutes later and Lodygin saved Zenit when he brilliantly turned away a header from Victor Lindelof.
Villas-Boas' men then nearly grabbed a second goal through Dzyuba, who ran through the middle of the Benfica defence and had his shot well blocked by Ederson.
But the tie shifted momentum when Benfica took the lead through Gaitan. From seemingly out of nowhere, substitute Raul Jimenez had a powerful strike from distance tipped onto the bar, before Gaitan ran in on the rebound to tap in.
Gaitan's goal would have been enough for Benfica but the visitors completed a 3-1 aggregate win six minutes into added time when Gaitan burst forward, and the ball fell to Talisca who struck the ball in to secure Benfica's passage to the last-eight of the Champions League.