Zenit beats Anderlecht 1-0 in Champions League


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -Alexander Kerzhakov scored a second-half penalty as Zenit St. Petersburg recorded its first win in the Champions League this season by beating Anderlecht 1-0 on Wednesday.

The home side was awarded a penalty when Milan Jovanovic brought down Alexander Anyukov in the box. Kerzhakov beat Silvio Proto into the right corner for his 200th career goal.

The result lifted the Russian champion to third place in Group C. Anderlecht remained bottom with one point from three games.

The two teams struggled on a wet and slippery pitch, playing under cold pouring rain for the first 35 minutes.

Kanu had the visitors' first chance ten minutes into the game but his shot ricocheted off a defender. Two minutes later, Jovanovic's cross from inside the box missed the far right post.

Zenit replied with Hulk's drive in the the18th and Kerzhakov's scissor-kick effort from close range two minutes later.

Giullaume Gillet wasted Anderlecht's best scoring opportunity in the first half when, unmarked on the right side of the box, he moved forward to the edge of the box but hesitated and passed the ball to the left instead of attempting a shot.

Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti brought on Vladimir Bystrov in the 62nd minute and the midfielder became a constant threat along the left flank.

A foul against him in front of goal seven minutes later led to the penalty kick in the 72nd.

Anderlecht sought an equalizer with Tom De Sutter getting the best chance when he missed a Guillaume Molins cross in front of an empty net two minutes into injury time.

"I'm satisfied with our game and the result, though we wasted quite a number of chances," Spalletti said. "Now we need to continue, we must win. The team is in good shape and is playing better and better."

Jovanovic said Anderlecht managed to neutralize Hulk and Kerzhakov and have played their best match in the tournament so far but "the referee has spoiled the match."

"He interpreted all disputable moments in favor of the home side," Jovanovic said.

Anderlecht coach John van dem Brom did not challenge the referee's decision.

"If he pointed to the spot that means there was a penaly," he said. "I'm satisfied the way we played but not with the result. It was difficult to play on this pitch. We realized it on Tuesday, but more over, it was wet today."

The two teams will meet again in two weeks.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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