Russian Champions Zenit out of Europa League
Moscow: A missed penalty in the dying minutes cost FC Zenit St. Petersburg the chance to advance into the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League, as they lost 1-2 on aggregate to Swiss FC Basel.
Losing 0-2 in the first leg away, the Russian champions were in a strong position as Axel Witsel gave Zenit a 1-0 lead going into the break, and a red card for Basel`s Marcelo Diaz saw the Swiss team reduced to ten men for the second half.
Zenit, however, were unable to break the visitors down. In a desperate, at times acrimonious final quarter of an hour, the home side piled on wave after wave of attack and came as close as hitting the post before being awarded a controversial 86th-minute penalty.
Captain Roman Shirokov was unable to capitalise on this golden late opportunity to keep Zenit`s hopes alive.
Zenit`s early exit from Europe`s second-tier competition marks a major disappointment for the Russian club, who were expected to provide stiff opposition to Europe`s biggest and best clubs in the late rounds of the Champions` League.
Zenit are currently third in the Russian Premier League.
Following are the Europa League last 16, second leg results Thursday:
At Moscow: Rubin Kazan (Russia) 2 Levante (Spain) 0
Rubin win 2-0 on aggregate
At St Petersburg: Zenit St.Petersburg (Russia) 1 Basel (Switzerland) 0
Basel win 2-1 on aggregate
At Milan: Inter Milan (Italy) 4 Tottenham (England) 1
4-4 on aggregate, Tottenham win on away goals