Zenit close winter training with two draws in one day

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Zenit St. Petersburg closed out their winter training schedule with a couple of 1-1 draws against Minsk-based sides on Saturday. First up they fielded a weaker side against FC Isloch, then later on they took on Dinamo Minsk.

Against FC Isloch there was a mixture of youngsters and fringe players, and at first they struggled to assert themselves. Isloch had a couple of chances inside the opening 20 minutes but Kerzhakov was attentive enough to ensure they didn’t get past.

Just before the half-hour mark Oleksandr Papush attacked the area from the right flank and shot from the edge of the box. Kerzhakov had it covered until a wicked deflection gave him no chance.

The Belarussians almost went into the break 2-0 up when Momo Yansane muscled his way through between Leon Musaev and Danila Prokhin. Kerzhakov’s foot kept out Yansane’s scuffed effort.

Five minutes after the break Sebastian Driussi drew Zenit level with a sublime free kick into the top right corner.

His compatriot Emiliano Rigoni proved to be Zenit’s most threatening outlet in the second half. He supplied a dangerous free kick in towards Yordan Osorio and Aleksey Sutormin, but neither could get the telling touch in the brief scramble.

With 10 minutes to go another corner was directed to Driussi on the edge of the box. The first-time volley cannoned away off a defender’s head, while a third corner was headed straight at the keeper by Osorio.

Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1 FC Isloch
22 February, Belek, Turkey
Goals: Driussi (51’); Papush (29’)

Zenit: Kerzhakov, Musaev, Osorio, Prokhin, Smolnikov (Vorobyov 71’), Erokhin, Kravtsov, Shamkin, Sutormin, Driussi, Rigoni

In a rematch of Zenit’s epic 8-5 aggregate Europa League win at the start of Sergey Semak’s reign, Malcom set the tone early on. He curled an inswinging long-range shot towards the far post only to see a flying full-stretch save deny him, before slightly mishitting a clear shot from the edge of the box.

Sardar Azmoun improvised when a ball fell to him unexpectedly in the six-yard box and blasted an acrobatic volley against the crossbar. Dinamo Minsk took the lead after 32 minutes, however, with a Vladislav Klimovich header from a free kick.

Artem Dzyuba was instrumental in creating the equaliser on the stroke of half time having earlier held up play to feed Malcom’s low shot. The Brazilian’s right-wing cross was helped on by Magomed Ozdoev to find Zenit’s talisman.

After his initial shot rebounded but left him with no clear line of sight to goal, he remained aware enough to backheel the ball to Yuriy Zhirkov to rifle in from 12 yards.

Three minutes after the break Dzyuba had a chance to get on the scoresheet himself. Even though his header was blocked by Klimovich, birthday boy Branislav Ivanovic was on hand to attempt an outrageous and ultimately unsuccessful overhead kick.

Douglas Santos and Azmoun both came close with shots before the hour mark, but perhaps the closest Zenit came to taking the lead wasn’t until 13 minutes were left on the clock. Ozdoev played a one-two with Azmoun just outside the area before smashing a swerving effort inches over.

Zenit resume Russian Premier Liga duties at home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Saturday 29 February.

Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1 Dinamo Minsk
22 February, Belek, Turkey
Goals: Zhirkov (44’); Klimovich (33’)

Zenit: Lunev, Zhirkov (Sergeev 84’), Rakitskiy, Ivanovic, Karavaev, Santos, Ozdoev, Barrios, Malcom, Dzyuba (Vorobyov 55’), Azmoun

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