Zenit knocked out after Chistyakov last-minute header ruled out

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UEFA Europa League Playoff Round, 2nd Leg
Real Betis 0-0 Zenit St. Petersburg (3-2 on aggregate)
Thursday 24 February, Benito Villamarin, Sevilla

Knowing that they were still only one goal from at least forcing extra time, Zenit started the tie in the south of Spain firmly on the front foot with an aggressive pressing shape that helped them dominate possession and chances early on.

Yuri Alberto came within a whisker of drawing Zenit level on aggregate around the half-hour mark after a delicate Danil Krugovoy chipped cross was helped on by Artem Dzyuba, but a desperate lunge from his marker prevented a dramatic opener.

Almost immediately after the break Alberto thought he had put his new side in front on the night with a well-worked move. Malcolm fed the ball back inside to Wendel, who picked out a delightful defence-splitting pass into Aleksey Sutormin’s path for the full-back to square for Alberto to slide in, only for the linesman’s flag to be raised and rule it out.

Moments later Betis hit the post from a corner routine that saw Artem Dzyuba lose a rare header to German Pezzella who flicked it on to Guide Rodriguez for the last touch, but the ball bounced away to safety.

Just when Zenit thought they had snatched a dramatic last-minute aggregate equaliser through a thumping Dmitry Chistyakov header, VAR was on hand to rule it out. A stamp from Aleksandr Erokhin a moment before the centre-back arrived to power home Andrey Mostovoy’s delicate cross was enough to extinguish what had been a brave but ultimately fruitless tie.

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