Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was left with his head in his hands after a mistake gifted Zenit St Petersburg a 1-1 draw in Russia.
With the visitors leading 1-0 thanks to Adrian’s strike, the on-loan Chelsea shot-stopper Courtois let an Igor Smolnikov cross – deflected by Toby Alderweireld – land under the crossbar, despite being well placed to stop it.
Zenit dominated possession but clear-cut chances were few and far between, with Hulk and Aleksandr Kerzhakov let down but poor final balls. Atletico, under strength after winning the group well ahead of schedule, operated on the break although looked blunt without Diego Costa and David Villa.
Eventually the hosts were punished for their hesitance in the final third as Adrian clinically finished off a counter attack after a fine through ball from Raul Garcia.
Luciano Spalletti’s side continued to push men forward, even bringing Andrei Arshavin off the bench, but it was ultimately a goalkeeping error rather than any good attacking play that saw them level.
The result nonetheless sees Atletico remain unbeaten while Zenit stay second ahead of Porto's game against group whipping boys Austria Vienna.
14’ – CHANCE: Hulk’s thunderbolt is parried by Courtois as Atletico scramble the loose ball clear.
29’ – CHANCE: A ricochet off Cristian Rodriguez almost embarrasses Yuri Lodigin but the ball flies wide past goal.
47’ – CHANCE: Hulk forces another save from Courtois with a fizzing low drive.
53’ – GOAL (Zenit 0-1 Atletico): Adrian Lopez slides it through Lodigin’s legs after Raul Garcia’s fine pass sent him through. A classic counter after an intense spell of Zenit pressure. Tomas Hubocan at fault though.
54’ – CHANCE: Atletico gain confidence from the goal as Garcia chips the keeper but sends it just over.
74’ – GOAL (Zenit 1-1 Atletico): Disaster for Courtois as his gaze follows the ball out of play – except it doesn’t go out
Zenit had 61% possession but only two clear-cut chances, both shots by Hulk that Courtois saved.
The result means Atletico remain unbeaten, their best record at this stage of a Champions League campaign.
Should teams be allowed to send out second-string sides? Zenit’s group rivals Porto will be fuming that, with Atletico already qualified, Diego Simeone fielded a shadow team, with Diego Costa and David Villa not even in Russia.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Hulk (Zenit) – Had a superb game but you feel he would be more useful through the middle than out wide, with his team-mates toothless in the final third.
Zenit: Lodygin 6, Smolnikov 6, Hubocan 5, Lombaerts 6, Criscito 6, Witsel 6, Fayzulin 5 , Shirokov 5, Shatov 6, Kerzhakov 6, Hulk 7; Subs: Bystrov 5, Arshavin 5
Atletico: Courtois 5, Alderweireld 6, Juanfran 7, Insua 7, Miranda 6, Koke 6, Raul Garcia 7, Cristian Rodriguez 6, Gabi 7, Guilavogui 6, Adrian Lopez 7; Subs: Torres 6
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Thibaut Courtois
- Zenit St Petersburg
- Atletico Madrid
- Diego Costa