Zenit thrash Krasnodar for Champions League boost

Zenit thrash Krasnodar for Champions League boost

Zenit St Petersburg boosted their confidence ahead of next week`s do-or-die Champions League clash against Monaco with a 4-0 win over FC Krasnodar on Saturday.

Goals by Ezequiel Garay, Axel Witsel, Miguel Danny and Igor Smolnikov gave Zenit a 13th win of the season and a seven-point lead over CSKA Moscow at the top of the Premier League in their last domestic match before the winter break. 

"It was a very important win for us as we want to go with these emotions, this kind of motivation into the match with Monaco," Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.

"I`m very proud of the players because the conditions were not easy but they played a fantastic game."

Krasnador were on the back foot almost immediately when goalkeeper Andrei Dykan suffered a wrist injury after nine minutes on the snow-covered Petrovsky stadium pitch to be replaced by Andrei Sinitsyn.

Two minutes later Sinitsyn was unable to prevent an opening goal by Garay, who scored after a Hulk free-kick hit the woodwork and bounced back into play.

The visitors had chances to score but their Brazilian forwards Ari and Wanderson both missed opportunities to level just before the break.

In the 55th minute Witsel added a second for Zenit after a mistake by Sinitsyn before Danny made it 3-0 six minutes later.

Smolnikov rounded off the scoring with a sharp-angled shot from the edge of the six-yard box with 23 minutes to go.

Zenit face Monaco on Tuesday needing to beat the French side to reach the Champions League last-16.

In Saturday`s other match, defending champions CSKA earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at Kuban Krasnodar ahead of their Champions League meeting with Bayern Munich.

Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa scored CSKA`s winning goal just before the break when he connected with a corner from Israeli Bebras Natcho.

"Seven points behind Zenit is a serious gap," CSKA head coach Leonid Slutsky said.

"But there`s still 13 matches ahead and we will do our best to close the gap after the league restarts in March."