Sports

Zenit 2-2 Sevilla (agg: 3-4): Beto blunders almost cost Sevilla their Europa League defence but Kevin Gameiro saves the day

  • Carlos Bacca puts Sevilla ahead from the spot after Vitolo was fouled
  • Salomon Rondon equalises following blunder from Beto
  • Beto gives away second goal when he turns Hulk shot over his own line 
  • Kevin Gameiro wins the tie for Sevilla on break in closing minutes 

By

Jonny Singer for MailOnline


Published:
15:58 EST, 23 April 2015

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Updated:
19:13 EST, 23 April 2015

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Kevin Gameiro saved his goalkeeper’s blushes with a late equaliser which put defending champions Sevilla into the last four of the Europa League.

Beto had looked to have cost his side their progress, with the game heading towards extra time, before substitute Gameiro arrived to slot home with five minutes remaining.

It had been a risk to start the Portuguese keeper, but Sevilla boss Unai Emery decided it one he was prepared to take, despite Beto’s absence since a game against Real Madrid in the first week of February. 

Carlos Bacca slams home the early penalty after Vitolo had been brought down by Neto after five minute

Hulk celebrates his goal with Axel Witsel but Zenit couldn’t hold on for extra time in the end

It was a gamble that spectacularly back-fired, with the keeper gifting Zenit two of the softest goals imaginable, to see the holders surrender a two-goal lead in the tie.  

First, just a matter of seconds after the half-time break, with Sevilla two goals up on aggregate a cruising, Beto dropped the ball, under no pressure, at the feet of Salomon Rondon, allowing the Venezuelan to rekindle the tie from a matter of yards.

Then, when Brazilian forward Hulk hit a speculative, but not overly threatening shot from 40 yards, Beto could only flap it over his own line, turning the tie on its head and sending it towards extra time. 

But as Zenit looked to apply the pressure, and Beto attempted to atone himself with two stunning saves, one from each of the two goalscorers, the champions struck on the break.  

Bacca is mobbed by his Sevilla team-mates after putting them in complete control of the tie early on

MATCH FACTS 

Zenit: Lodygin, Criscito, Neto, Lombaerts, Smolnikov; Garcia, Witsel; Danny, Shatov, Hulk, Rondon (Kerzhakov 83 mins)

Subs not used: Malafeev, Rodic, Anyukov, Tymoshchuk, Sheydaev, Arshavin

Goal: Rondon 48, Hulk 72

Booked: Neto, Witsel, Lodygin

Sevilla: Beto, Tremoulinas, Pareja (Iborra 22), Coke, Carrico, Vidal, Vitolo (Suarez 92), Banega, Mbia, Krychowiak, Bacca (Gameiro 72)

Subs not used: Rico, Figueiras, Navarro, Reyes

Goal: Bacca 6, Gameiro 85

Booked: Iborra 

It was a pulsating finish to a game that had started promisingly, but looked to have faded away somewhat in the first half.  

The Spanish side carried a slim lead, given them by a stunning Denis Suarez volley at the end of the first leg, into the second game, but Zenit were optimistic after scoring an away goal in Seville, which gave them a perceived edge.

That advantage lasted little more than five minutes however, as defender Neto stupidly dived in on Sevilla winger Vitolo, to concede an early penalty.

It was a bizarre challenge to make, with Vitolo running towards the byline, and the ball not even close to within winning distance. The contact may have been minimal, but the fact that it was there at all was as much down to Neto’s stupidity as anything else, and it was hard to feel sympathy for the Portuguese defender.

Carlos Bacca was not in the mood to show any mercy, dispatching the spot-kick beautifully, high into the top corner, and the visitors were in complete control.

From then the pattern of play was set, with Sevilla inviting pressure, absorbing it, and hitting Zenit on the break. 

Indeed, the visitors, two goals ahead on aggregate and with the majority of the game in their own half, had much the better chances in the first period. 

Coke tries to get a shot away as Sevilla threatened on the break, before Zenit hit back in the second half

Zenit midfielder Axel Witsel challenges Sevilla’s Benoit Tremoulinas during a tense first half

Aleix Vidal should have put them further in front, after out-pacing former Manchester City midfielder Javi Garcia, but he seemed to forget that running is not enough, failing to either pass or shoot and simply running into Yuri Lodygin. 

Soon after Bacca sprang the offside trap and rounded the Zenit keeper, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Igor Smolnikov.

Andre Villas-Boas’ team barely registered a shot before first-half stoppage time, the one exception coming in the 18th minute, when captain Danny exchanged passes with Hulk before seeing his near-post shot saved by Beto.

But, as the first 45 approached its conclusion, the hosts suddenly produced a succession of chances, and could easily have got themselves back into the tie. 

Salomon Rondon, whose goal got Zenit back in the tie, was starved of service for long periods of the game

First Salomon Rondon, almost entirely ineffectual up front in the opening period, was gifted the ball three yards from goal following some dubious defending at a set piece, but the Venezuelan striker couldn’t sort his feet out, and stumbled the ball away from target. 

Moments later Danny struck the base of the post with a vicious effort that suggested Zenit might have more to offer in the final quarter of the tie. 

Not that they could have expected the sort of favours that Beto handed them in the second period, and which looked to have at least earned them an extra 30 minutes.

In the end though, it was the home side’s defending that let them down, failing to keep the back door shut as they pushed for a winner, allowing Gameiro to do the damage. 

 

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