Zenit St. Petersburg Take UEFA Cup Final: Attractive Football Wins the Day

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IMay 14, 2008

Upon reflection the UEFA cup final could have provided a lot more for the neutral viewer. Unfortunately Rangers beat Fiorentina on penalties and the final suffered as a result.

Luckily the more exciting and adventurous St Petersburg managed to finally unlock the Rangers defence which seemed to be playing for the draw or some sort of miracle goal. Apart from a few sharp chances they rarely threatened but in the end it actually took a change in tactics from the Russians to produce the first goal.

Tired of dominating possession to no effect they started letting the Scots have a bit more ball to lure them out of their cave. Finally the breakthrough came as the Scots pushing forward down their left flank coughed up possession, which was seized upon by St Petersburg and the ball came to stand out Zenit player Denisov who played it to Arshavin who then played a thoughtful pass into the strikers path which he gratefully pushed passed the stranded Alexander. 

It was now all or nothing for Rangers and they started lobbing long balls up the field in hope of an equaliser. They came close but after substitute Novo fired over after a terrible communication breakdown with fellow sub McCulloch. 

There was nothing left for Rangers and their misery was compounded when Zyryanov tapped home the second for the deserved champions to secure their first European trophy.

The finale definitely made up for the stalemate of the first seventy minutes but the tactics of Rangers manager Walter Smith were questionable considering the Russian teams ability to score goals.

From the outset it did seem to be only a matter of time before Zenit scored and time it was that proved to be Rangers downfall as the clock could not run down fast enough for the hapless Scots.

Adventurous football was the winner on the day and the onus will now be on the Russian national side to try and emulate the performance of this outstanding team.

Once again Dick Advocaat shows us why he is still one of the best in the business and the Rangers fans will grudgingly have to admire their former bosses triumph.