Second-half goals ensure Bayer Leverkusen beat Zenit St Petersburg


Bayer Leverkusen boosted their hopes of advancing from Champions League Group C on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory over previously unbeaten Zenit St Petersburg. Second-half goals from Giulio Donati and Kyriakos Papadopoulos secured the points for Roger Schmidt's side and helped them move top of the pool, with Monaco and Benfica battling out a goalless draw. Wendell was sent off for a second bookable offence 11 minutes from time, but the visitors could not capitalise on the extra man. The result marked a rare loss on Andre Villas-Boas' team, who had headed to the BayArena boasting four points from their first two Champions League games and undefeated in 10 in the Russian top flight. There were few clear-cut chances in a cagey first half. Leverkusen looked the more likely, but the sides largely cancelled each other out. Danny's early attempt was comfortably caught by Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, while Wendell saw a left-footed attempt blocked by Zenit stopper Yuri Lodygin. Lodygin did well five minutes before the interval to deny Heung-Min Son with his feet, and Aleksandr Aniukov lashed wide for the visitors from close range, but there was to be no first-half breakthrough. That all changed soon after the interval, though, as two goals in six minutes around the hour mark turned the game in Leverkusen's favour. Wendell dispossessed Hulk on the edge of the Leverkusen area and, after a lightning counter-attack, Hakan Calhanoglu teed up Donati to drill home a fine right-footed shot. Lodygin got his fingers to the ball but was unable to prevent it nestling in the bottom-left corner of his net. Before Zenit could regroup they found themselves two down. Again, Calhanoglu was the provider, his free-kick from the right whipped in for Papadopoulos to head powerfully past a helpless Lodygin. Having been booked early in the second period for a foul on Hulk, Wendell was given his marching orders in the 79th minute for a handball offence. Hulk had half a chance in stoppage time to pull one back for Zenit, but Leno was more than equal to his 25-yard attempt as 10-man Leverkusen comfortably held on.