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  Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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Zenit St. Petersburg pulled off one of the most impressive victories
Zenit St. Petersburg pulled off one of the most impressive victories in the side's history on Thursday evening, beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 in Germany.

The Russian champions, inspired by a breathtaking display by their diminutive captain, Andrey Arshavin, were simply too strong for Leverkusen. Zenit looked dangerous from the whistle, and could have already been 3-0 up by the 20th minute, when Arshavin topped a strong run down the right flank with a blistering shot into the roof of the net.

Zenit continued pressing, but the 2002 Champions League finalists equalized against the run of play in the 34th minute, and the teams went into the half-time break level.

The Russian side's Dutch trainer, Dick Advocaat, was sitting out his final match of a three game suspension and was unable to join his team in the dressing room. However, half time talk or no half time talk, the second 45 minutes saw Zenit turn on the style, scoring three goals in a blistering 12 minute period that left the German side shell-shocked.

First Pavel Pogrebnyak scored his eighth goal of this season's UEFA Cup campaign in the 52nd minute to make him the tournament's top scorer, slotting into an empty net following another fine run by Arshavin. Next, Aleksandr Anyukov moved up from defense to hammer home a long range shot, and then to all but secure a spot in the semi finals, Igor Denisov hit home the fourth, latching onto a pass by Pogrebnyak - Arshavin, again, involved.

Dick Advocaat was in understandably high spirits after the game, saying that "If CSKA could win the UEFA Cup then we can too." CSKA Moscow won the tournament in 2005.

The second leg is on April 10 in St. Petersburg. Barring a total collapse by the Russians however, it looks certain that Zenit will go forward to their first semi final appearance in a major European competition.

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