Putin congratulates Zenit, Rangers fans clash with police
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was
one of the first to congratulate Dutch coach Dick Advocaat after his side Zenit
St Petersburg beat Glasgow Rangers 2-0 to win the UEFA Cup Wednesday night.
Putin phoned Advocaat shortly after the victory and told him that the coach had achieved a great thing for Russia.
"The prime minister said that he was very happy, and I said that I was also very happy," Advocaat said.
Earlier, Zenit ground down a resilient side at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyrianov stunned the massive travelling Scottish support with two clinically taken second-half goals to secure the club's first European trophy with a 2-0 win.
During the match, police clashed with Rangers fans in the city centre after the breakdown of a giant screen, where tens of thousands of ticket-less fans were gathered to watch the game. There were a number of arrests.
The City of Manchester Stadium was overwhelmingly in the hands of Rangers fans, with at least 30,000 of the 47,000-capacity crowd supporting the Scottish club, which was playing in its first European final for 36 years.
Several thousand more congregated outside the stadium without tickets, while the Manchester city centre was filled with raucous Gers supporters, believed to number around 100,000.
During the game, Zenit had most of the possession and proved too strong for a Rangers side that had earlier been criticized for playing defensive football.
"It took a while to score because Rangers played a good defensive game, and if we had conceded a goal first we would have had problems," said man of the match Andrei Arshavan.
"I think we controlled the game from the very beginning. I think we attacked more. Rangers had no chances in the second half, and when we scored the first goal I knew that we would win."
Zenit, who went into the game as favourites, were first to settle and could have been in front as early as the fourth minute, but Andrei Arshavin fired his shot into the side-netting.
The Russians continued to dominate possession without really threatening the Rangers goal, though Aleksandr Anyukov did force goalkeeper Neil Alexander into action with a fierce shot from the edge of the area shortly before the half-hour mark.
With Rangers starved of possession, chances were at a premium at the other end, with Steven Whittaker's header over the bar virtually the only chance of note for Walter Smith's side in the opening period.
Before the half came to a close, Rangers fans also suffered the fright of seeing Kirk Broadfeet seemingly handle the ball in the area, but referee Peter Frojdfeldt pointed for a corner rather than to the penalty spot.
The second half started at an increased tempo, with the first clear-cut chance falling to Rangers in the 53rd minute, when Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev blocked a shot from Jean-Claude Darcheville.
A frantic scramble ensued with Rangers claiming Denisov handled, but once again Frojdfeldt waved the claims away.
"I thought it looked like a penalty," said Rangers manager Walter Smith. "Sometimes you get those decisions, and sometimes you don't.
Alexander suffered a rush of blood in the 63rd minute when the 30- year-old failed to meet a ball outside his area, but Sasa Papac was on hand to head Arshavin's subsequent effort off the line and spare the goalkeeper's blushes.
Zenit finally got the goal that all their possession deserved, when Denisov strode through the centre of the Rangers defence before sliding the ball past Alexander on 72 minutes.
Zyrianov could have doubled Zenit's lead minutes later, but his shot came back off a post.
The closest Rangers came to an equalizer was in added time when substitute Nacho Novo blasted over, but there was still time for Zyrianov to make it 2-0, tapping the ball home after a slick counterattacking move.
Around 100 Zenit fans poured on to the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate the win, but match stewards quickly restored order to allow captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk lift the trophy in the presence of UEFA President Michel Platini.
Goalkeeper Alexander said that he was disappointed that they had not managed to win the trophy for their many fans.
"At the start of the season, I would never have expected that we do so well," he said, "but now, of course, I am very disappointed."
Rangers are still in with a chance to win the Scottish league, as well as the cup, where they will face Queen of the South in the final.
"If we win the league, we will have done well. I think we need to put this behind us and now concentrate on the matter at hand.", dpa reported.