Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Basel 1893
Zenit had a hard time in Switzerland in the first leg of this match, having failed to score any away goals, which would have been important for them as they prepared to host the same team for the second leg. The Russian side had, hence, created a problem for themselves, as Basel had proved to be a very strong team. Zenit, however, did not lose any hope as they had a perfect home record in the competition, having won all six of their home games by 2-goal margins.
Basel started their game hungry for goals with Stocker threatening a bit at the beginning, before having to be sent off to make way for Fabian Frei after an injury by Zenit’s Kerzhakov. The hosts continued to struggle to get both goals back, and managed to get the first one inside just half an hour and restoring faith in themselves. A Hulk corner, met by Lombaerts, allowed Witsel to get his shot past Sommer in the Basel goal, and the hosts were hoping once more.
Zenit’s work was made easier when Basel’s Diaz picked up 2 yellow cards in the margin of just 4 minutes and got himself sent off right at the end of the first half. The home side were now stronger and threatened more, but none of their last-minute attempts (in the first half) translated into goals.
The second half started well for the home side, although the Swiss visitors were very strong at the back, making their lives even more difficult. Sommer was tested a few times, but he just kept holding on. A strong Streller made way for Sauro, and the 23-year-old Argentinian made sure to reinforce his side’s defense.
Zenit had an opportunity to equalize on aggregate and take the game to extra time when Shirokov was gifted a penalty. Sommer made no mistakes, however, making sure to save and taking his side through to the quarter-finals on.
Statistic-wise, Zenit were, by far, the more threatening side, having had a total of 26 attempts (hitting the woodwork once) against Basel’s 3. Zenit had 68% possession throughout the night, as compared to Basel’s 32%. 4 yellow cards were issued during this game and they all went to the home side. Only 1 red card was issued and it went to Basel’s Marcelo Diaz.
Luciano Spalleti and Murat Yakin lined up the following squads:
Zenit Starting XI
Zhenov, Anyukov, Lombaerts, Hubocan, Shirokov (c), Denisov, Alves, Kerzhakov, Hulk, Witsel
Subs: Baburin, Rodic, Lukovic, Semak, Bukharov, Fayzulin, and Bystrov
Basel Starting XI
Somme, Ho, Dragovic, Schar, Streller (c), Degen, Diaz, Salah, Cabral, Elneny, Stocker
Subs: Vailati, Yapi, Frei, Zoua, Frei, Steinhofer, and Sauro
Final Score: Zenit Saint Petersburg 1-0 Basel 1893* (Agg: 1-2)
Having eliminated Zenit, Basel are through to the quarter-finals of this competition and will face Tottenham Hotspur of England as their opponents, as announced in the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game away, and the second leg at home.
Girondins de Bordeaux vs. SL Benfica
Having managed to hold Benfica, and only just conceded one goal, Bordeaux’s mission in the second leg wouldn’t be too tough, given they had a strong team planned. All they needed to take the game to extra time was 1 goal, which they were confident they would get. They would, however, only go through if they managed to prevent a strong Benfica from scoring any away goals.
This match started well for the home side, who were looking to erase their opponent’s goal with early attempts from Diabate and Saivet. Carrasso wasn’t too bothered in the Bordeaux goal for the first 20 minutes, but slowly, the away side picked up on their pace and started to counter much more confidently.
30 minutes in, the away side had their first goal, adding to their tally significantly, and making their hosts more uncomfortable. A corner from John found Jardel, who was able to head the ball into the net to make it 2-0 on aggregate. The home side now had to up their game even more.
The second half came and the home side played with more urgency, managing to scare their visitors a few times before they could respond. It was an all-Bordeaux game until Jorge Jesus decided to make a very important change to his side’s attack; Oscar Cardozo in for Rodrigo.
Some balance, however little, was established between the two teams as time continued to run out for the French side. The hosts regained a little hope just 8 minutes later when Diabate finally got one in for his hard work. Henrique’s long ball forward was met by the 24-year-old Malian who managed to put it past Artur with class.
The home side’s joy was short-lived, however, when just seconds later, Oscar Cardozo did the same thing for his team. Carrasso had no chance against the Paraguayan striker. Hope was once again lost for Francis’ side. 4 minutes were added on at the end of this game, and 2 goals were scored during this time. The first was to the home side when Jardel accidentally put the ball into his own net, and the second was another marvelous strike from Oscar Cardozo to end Bordeaux dreams of going to the next round.
Statistic-wise, the home side had a total of 15 attempts, the away side managing only 6. Both sides were close, having each gotten 4 corners, 1 good attempt, and almost equal possession (Bordeaux had 52% possession against Benfica’s 48%). Ovidiu Alin Hategan issued a total of 6 yellow cards (3-a-side) between the two teams. No players were sent off during this match.
Francis Gillot and Jorge Jesus lined up the following squads:
Bordeaux Starting XI
Carrasso, Henrique, Sane, Tremoulinas, Plasil (c), Mariano, Sertic, Obraniak, Diabate, Saivet, Maurice-Belay
Subs: Olimpa, Marange, Planus, Poundje, Sacko, Poko, and Khalfallah
Benfica Starting XI
Artur, Roderick, Jardel, Andre Almeida, Salvio, Gaitan (c), Matic, Perez, John, Melgarejo, Rodrigo
Subs: Paulo Lopes, Miguel Vitor, Aimar, Lima, Oscar Cardozo, Carlos Martins, and Maxi Pereira
Final Score: Girondins de Bordeaux 2-3 SL Benfica* (Agg: 2-4)
Diabate 74′, Jardel 90+1′ (o.g) | Jardel 30′, Oscar Cardozo 75′, 90+2′
Having eliminated Bordeaux, Benfica are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Newcastle United, as announced in the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game at home, and the second leg away.
Written by Ange Marline