Ruud winner seals away win
Real Madrid have won their first away Champions League match in seven attempts after beating Zenit St Petersburg 2-1.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 30/09/08 8:39pm
Real Madrid have won their first away Champions League match in seven attempts after beating Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 on Tuesday.
Ruud van Nistelrooy's 55th Champions League goal was enough to secure an unlikely victory in Petrovski Stadium, despite an onslaught of Zenit pressure in the second half.
Zenit had gifted Real an early lead through Tomas Hubocan's goal before Danny briefly restored parity prior to Van Nistelrooy's clinical winner on 31 minutes.
The result gives Real the perfect start in Group H with two wins out of two, while Zenit are still searching for their first points of the campaign.
The first half resembled more like a basketball contest than a football match with its end-to-end tempo and the worst thing about the opening 45 minutes is that it finished.
Real surprisingly came out of the blocks first, detouring from their usual slow-paced build-up play, replacing it with an almost Premier League like pace in the opening moments.
And Real's quick tempo got its reward in the fourth minute when Hubocan put the ball in his own net from a Rafael van der Vaart cross.
The visitors' summer signing Van der Vaart found himself with acres of space on the right after just taking a corner and his low cross into the penalty area fizzed to Hubocan, who could only hook his awkward clearance goalwards.
The goal sparked a chorus of defiant support from the Zenit faithful, and the partisan crowd were rewarded with a goal of their own after a dominating spell from their team in the Real half.
Zenit full-back Radek Sirl proved a constant thorn on the right side of the Spanish defence and it was his pass that found Andrei Arshavin, who delivered an excellent left-footed cross and big summer signing Danny outstretched Gabriel Heinze to level the scores on 25 minutes.
But the Spanish champions showed their quality and took the lead again through Van Nistelrooy six minutes later in a move inspired by three Holland internationals.
When former Chelsea man Arjen Robben found himself on the right wing his cross was cleared to compatriot Van der Vaart, whose 20-yard strike deflected into the path of Van Nistelrooy and the former Manchester United striker tucked a left-foot effort past Malafeev.
The second half saw Zenit dominate the possession and the Russian champions carved out several gilt-edged chances orchestrated by the ever-impressive Arshavin.
Danny and substitute Alejandro Dominguez came close for Zenit, but it was the Russian talisman Arshavin who came closest when the No.10 hit Casillas' left-hand post with a right-foot drive after good play down the left by Dominguez and fellow sub Faith Tekke.
But even after four minutes of stoppage time, it looked as though Zenit would not score after midnight, such was their luck in front of goal.
Zenit manager Dick Advocaat will have no complaints about his side's efforts while Real boss Bernd Schuster will be relieved that his team's defensive fragility went unpunished.
|Zenit St Petersburg||Team Statistics||Real Madrid|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|5||Shots on Target||5|
|5||Shots off Target||10|