Atletico beats Zenit 3-1 in the Champions League
MADRID (AP) — Joao Miranda, Arda Turan and Baptistao scored to give Atletico Madrid a convincing 3-1 win over Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Atletico, which leads the Spanish league after a perfect start to the season, opened its European campaign by applying early pressure and testing the Russian team’s goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin.
Miranda scored a header from a corner in the 40th as Atletico dominated the first half.
Zenit began the second half looking determined and Aleksandr Kerzhakov made a pass to Hulk, who fired a spectacular left-footed shot into Thibaut Courtois’ goal in the 58th.
Atletico then peppered Lodygin’s goal until Turan scored in the 64th and Baptistao finished the visitors off with a finely angled shot just inside the far post, beating Lodygin in the 80th.
“We should have scored another goal because we had control of the match,” Baptistao said. “The coach told us it would be an intense match.”
Atletico’s early pressure locked the visitors into their own half and when Turan’s powerfully hit shot was stopped by Lodygin in the third minute it looked to have stung the keepers hands.
Atletico’s defense braced for a Hulk free kick as the Brazil forward took a long run-up to the ball in the 23rd minute, but his shot went wide of the near post.
Filipe Luis found space in the midfield and released a powerful shot which went just wide of Lodygin’s far post in the 31st.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was in the stands taking notes of the match.
Miranda’s goal came when he rose to connect with Jorge “Koke” Resurrecion’s floated corner, beating defender Luis Neto at the near post.
Zenit clearly benefited from a half-time talk by coach Luciano Spalletti and moved forward into Atletico’s half more effectively. Konstantin Zyryanov just missed with a powerful long-range shot in the 57th.
Zenit then raced forward with a fast counterattack in which Aleksandr Kerzhakov made a precise pass to Hulk, who fired a left-footed shot mid-run into the top right hand corner from 25 yards (meters) past the stranded Courtois a minute later.
Atletico responded and Zenit’s defense had to parry twice before Turan found the back of the net.
“In the second half we came on playing better, but football is like that and although we got the equalizer, we soon saw Altetico’s happiness at getting a second goal,” Zenit forward Danny Alves said. “Things got complicated for us as we were forced to go after a result, but Atletico is a good team and we’re sad because we have the quality to have done better.”