Dutch champions FC Twente fought off a spirited Russian fightback to confirm their passage into the last eight of the Europa League at the expense of former winners Zenit. Michel Preud'homme's men advance despite losing 2-0, having won 3-0 in last week's first-leg in Enschede.
Zenit took the lead in the 17th minute after a sustained spell of pressure. Playmaker Danny's delicate ball found the run of Roman Shirokov, who had sneaked in unnoticed behind the Twente defence. The midfielder's first effort struck the post however, he gratefully accepted the second chance as he tucked home the rebound to make it 1-0.
The home side cut the overall arrears to one goal eight minutes before the half-time break. Twente's defence failed to deal with Bruno Alves' header back into the danger zone and when Danko Lazovic's shot was blocked, the ball broke to Aleksandr Kerzhakov. The former Sevilla man lashed the ball into the net via the knee of Bart Buysse on the line.
Before kick-off, there was a minute's silence to mourn the death of Marina Malafeev, wife of Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav, who died in a car crash this morning. Yuri Zhevnov deputised between the sticks for the hosts.
Twente began with a refreshing sense of purpose. After just five minutes, Denny Landzaat's enterprising ball found Nacer Chadli, who volleyed inches wide of the post. Zenit also created chances other than their two first-half goals, with Aleksandr Anyukov and Danny being thwarted by Nikolay Mihaylov and the side-netting respectively. Luuk De Jong then shot over just before the interval after good work from Roberto Rosales down the right.
Luciano Spalletti's men had two shouts for a penalty turned down in the opening ten minutes after the break ; the first after Aleksei Ionov went down under the challenge of Buysse and the second for an alleged handball from Denny Landzaat. With 20 minutes to go, Oguchi Onyewu had a wonderful chance to kill off Zenit but his header was tipped over by Zhevnov.
As time ran out for the Russian champions, the state of the pitch deteriorated, which had an impact on the quality of play. There was the inevitable late charge from Zenit as they strove to stay in the competition but they were kept at bay by Twente's red defensive wall right until the end of the five allotted minutes of stoppage time.
De Tukkers now go into Friday's draw with the possibility of meeting the likes of Benfica and Spartak Moscow among others. On the domestic front, Zenit face big-spenders Anzhi on Monday while Twente travel to Rotterdam to take on Excelsior.