Zenit Wreck Rangers UEFA Dreams

Zenit St Petersburg won the UEFA Cup in Manchester with a 2-0 victory over Rangers.

The Gers battled bravely but were unable to find an answer to second-half strikes from Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zurianov.

A tight first-half saw few clear-cut opportunities, with Zenit dominating possession without managing to break down a resolute Rangers defense.

Andrei Arshavin provided the cutting edge for the Russians and looked dangerous in sporadic breaks forward, while Rangers were content to try and hit their opponents on the counter on the rare occasions they ventured into the final third.

Walter Smith’s side were able to establish more of a foothold on proceedings after the break and almost took the lead when Barry Ferguson saw a stabbed effort cleared off the line by a desperate Zenit defense.

However, on 73 minutes a slick move involving Denisov and Arshavin resulted in the former slotting a low effort into the bottom corner past a helpless Alexander.

Rangers did all they could to muster an equaliser, throwing on three attacking substitutes in a desperate bid to find a breakthrough.

The best of their opportunities fell to Nacho Novo, but the striker could only fire high into the stands when presented with a late chance 10-yards out.

Deep into injury-time Zenit then added a second when Fatih Tekke beat the Gers’ offside trap to square for Zurianov to tap into an unguarded net.

The masses of Rangers supporters who had descended on Manchester were ultimately left despondent but can be proud of their side after a remarkable European adventure.


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