Zenit draws 1-1 with Atletico in Champs League
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw at Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League on Tuesday after conceding an own goal in the closing stages of their Group G match.
Atletico, which had already qualified for the knockout stage, opened the scoring with a solo effort from Adrian Lopez in the 53rd minute — only for Toby Alderweireld to head Igor Smolnikov’s cross from the right into his own net in the 74th.
Zenit dominated possession in the the first half but failed to convert its chances.
Hulk tested Thibaut Courtois with a powerful shot from outside the box in the 14th minute, Zenit’s first effort on goal.
Six minutes later, Zenit squandered a clearer chance when there was no-one in front of the visitors’ empty net to meet Smolnikov’s cross from the right, while striker Alexander Kerzhakov came close to scoring after a cross by Hulk.
Atletico created only one scoring opportunity in the first half, when Yuri Lodygin dived to his left to save Koke’s half-volley one minute before the break.
Zenit kept up the pressure after the break, with Hulk forcing Courtois to block his low left-foot shot from just outside the box in the 47th.
Instead, the breakthrough came at the other end after Roman Shirokov failed to open the scoring with a weak shot in the box and Atletico launched a quick counter attack.
Raul Garcia put Lopez through and the striker eluded defender Tomas Hubocan before beating Lodygin in a one-on-one — slipping the ball between the keeper’s legs.
The home side was gifted an equalizer after Smolnikov broke down the right flank and Alderweireld’s header beat Courtois as it flew into the top left corner.
Once level, the home side pushed for a winner in the final stages but never really came close, while Lodygin denied Garcia from close range.
“I think, we have played a good match against a strong opponent,” Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said.
“But we didn’t create many chances because our opponents kept it tight and were well-organized in defense.”
Atletico leads the group with 13 points. Zenit has six, two points more than Porto which was playing last-place Austria Vienna later on Tuesday.