MOSCOW (Reuters) – Zenit St Petersburg set up a winner takes all clash with Monaco for a place in the Champions League knockout stages after Danny’s goal gave them a nervy 1-0 win against Benfica in Group C on Wednesday.
Danny’s well-taken 79th minute goal also ended Benfica’s hopes of reaching the last 16 and ensured group leaders Bayer Leverkusen were guaranteed a spot in the next round.
“It was a very difficult match, however aside from the first 10 minutes of the second half, we took control of the game and deserved to get three points,” Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters.
Defeat was harsh on Benfica who created a number of good chances, but Danny’s smart finish proved the difference as Zenit recorded their first win at home in the Champions League group stage in more than two years.
Benfica ended the match with 10 men after Luisao was sent off for a second bookable offence after a lunging tackle. Zenit have seven points, two behind the now qualified Bayer Leverkusen who host Monaco (5) later on Wednesday.
The home side had the first chance when Hulk’s dipping free kick was parried by Benfica keeper Julio Cesar, but neither Axel Witsel or Jose Rondon were able to turn in the rebound.