Zenit’s Champions League quest has ended in Lisbon at the hands of Benfica. The St Pete side failed to defend their narrow 3-2 advantage from the first game, losing 2-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate.
A Maxi Pereira tap-in late in the first half more or less decided the game. The Uruguayan scored in stoppage time with devastating simplicity as he stabbed home from close range after the hosts sliced open the Zenit defense down the right.
Zenit woke up after the interval, but couldn’t offer anything more penetrating than the occasional shot from distance, only for Benfica substitute Nelson Oliveira to chip over Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev in second-half stoppage time to make sure of the victory.
The day’s other fixture ended with the same aggregate score, but the story of the tie had a different kind of drama. Rated 33-1 shots by bookmakers to advance after losing the first leg 4-0, Arsenal narrowly failed in their bid for the greatest comeback in Champions League history, with AC Milan holding on to reach the quarter-finals.
The Gunners closed to within one accurate shot of the seven-time champions before halftime through Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie, but the second half saw the game closed down by AC Milan, who narrowly avoided yet another embarrassing turnaround in the Champions League.