Zenit St Petersburg reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals on Thursday despite drawing a blank in their quarter-final return, a 1-0 reverse to German side Bayer Leverkusen.The result gave the Russians a 4-2 aggregate win after their surprise stroll in Germany, rendering academic the only goal scored by Leverkusen’s Russian star Dimitri Bulykin on 18 minutes.
Leverkusen keeper Rene Adler saved a late spotkick from the hosts’ Anatoli Timostschuk to give the Germans the win on the night but it was not enough to make up for their home hammering as Dutch coach Dick Advocaat steered Zenit through.
The Russians will next meet Bayern Munich for a place in the final.
Michael Skibbe made a raft of changes from the first game, leaving top striker Theofanis Gekas and experienced midfielder Sergei Barbarez on the bench, and the tactic paid dividends of a sort as Zenit failed to find the form they had shown in the first game.
Bulykin almost had the Germans ahead in the fourth minute but Zenit keeper Viacheslav Malafeev made a fine stop.
Gonzalo Castro’s inch perfect cross, however, allowed Bulykin to make amends with a header which briefly silenced the home crowd, who were roused only by some fine runs from Arshavin.
With 20 minutes left Denisov should have scored after a neat-one two put him through but with only Adler to beat his shot hit the post.
Bernd Schneider saw an effort deflected out for a corner as Leverkusen sought to add to their lead with seven minutes remaining but time had as good as run out on the Germans by then.
Moments later Karim Haggui upended Viktor Fayzulin and Spanish referee Mejuto Gonzalez pointed to the spot.Timostchuk’s effort was poorly struck, however, and Adler made the save to frustrate the 17,000 home fans who nonetheless raised a final cheer for their side’s first qualification for a European semi-final.