Liverpool paid for wasted chances as goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak gave Zenit St Petersburg a lead in the first leg of their Europa League tie.

Luis Suarez was guilty of several misses including a shot from five yards out and a curling effort just wide.

Hulk had already hit the post in the first half but smacked in a swerving shot after 70 minutes.

And two minutes later Semak tucked in at the back post to give Liverpool an uphill task in the second leg.

Suarez, who is Liverpool's top scorer this season, also failed to test the Zenit keeper despite being clean through, and shot wide with two other chances.

It was far from one-way traffic, though, with Pepe Reina having to make several early saves.

  • Liverpool had 46% possession against Zenit, the first time they have dipped below 50% in the Europa League this season. (via Opta)

The result was perhaps harsh on Liverpool in front of a fiercely vocal and partisan crowd, which Reds manager Brendan Rodgers praised as wonderful.

The game's narrative had a certain familiarity to it, coming three days after a 2-0 defeat by West Brom in which the Baggies grabbed two late goals.

Like that Premier League match, Liverpool were without the cup-tied Daniel Sturridge. On this occasion it was Hulk, rather than Romelu Lukaku, who showed Suarez how to finish with a smartly taken goal.

The Brazilian striker, who has struggled since his £32m transfer from Porto in September, tormented Liverpool in an entertaining opening 15 minutes which featured plenty of chances for both teams - despite the sub-zero temperatures.

First, Hulk crossed for Aleksandr Kerzhakov and then took a left-footed shot himself, with Reina saving well on both occasions.

In between those opportunities, Suarez had fired wide after breaking free but he should have given Liverpool the lead when he intercepted Nicolas Lombaerts's pass in the Russian defender's half, but over-ran the ball when attempting to take it around the keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.

There were further shaky moments for both defences before the first half was done. Hulk's shot slipped through Reina's grasp and hit the post, while Suarez missed the target from five yards out after Raheem Sterling had gathered Joe Allen's floated cross.

The tricky pitch hardly helped matters, and Allen - recalled to the side in place of Lucas - struggled to control and distribute the ball in his customary fashion.

With opportunities blundered, there was a real danger for Liverpool that, having been made to pay for similar wastefulness on several occasions this season, they might suffer again.

That feeling grew early in the second half when, first, Glen Johnson made a barnstorming run from his own half only to be denied by Malafeev and then Suarez missed the target once more when he tried to curl his shot into the corner from the edge of the box.

And so it came to pass after 70 minutes. Jordan Henderson lost possession and when the ball was fed to Hulk he advanced on goal before cracking a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Two minutes later, Martin Skrtel failed to clear Aleksandr Anyukov's cross from the right and Johnson was nowhere to be seen as substitute Semak converted at the back post.

Suarez tested Malafeev once more with a free-kick from the edge of the box, but despite creating so much, Liverpool again lacked a killer instinct.

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Europa League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Zenit St P'sbg 2-0 Liverpool FT
(HT 0-0)
  • Hulk 70
  • Semak 72

    Zenit St Petersburg

    • 16 Malafeev
    • 02 Aniukov
    • 06 Lombaerts
    • 13 Luis Neto yellow card
    • 14 Hubocan yellow card
    • 10 Danny (Semak 54)
    • 15 Shirokov
    • 27 Denisov
    • 28 Witsel
    • 11 Kerzhakov (Faitzulin 82)
    • 29 Hulk

    Substitutes

    • 30 Zhevnov,
    • 21 Rodic,
    • 24 Lukovic,
    • 20 Faitzulin,
    • 25 Semak,
    • 94 Evseev,
    • 77 Djordjevic

    Liverpool

    Substitutes

    Ref: Carlos Velasco CarballoAtt: 21,000
    ZENIT ST P'SBG
    LIVERPOOL

    Possession

    • Zenit St P'sbg 55%
    • Liverpool 45%

    Attempts on target

    • Zenit St P'sbg 7
    • Liverpool 2

    Attempts off target

    • Zenit St P'sbg 1
    • Liverpool 4

    Corners

    • Zenit St P'sbg 7
    • Liverpool 4

    Fouls

    • Zenit St P'sbg 10
    • Liverpool 7
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+2:10 The referee signals the end of the game.
    • 90:00+1:21 Short corner worked by Axel Witsel.
    • 88:20 Foul by Viktor Faitzulin on Sanchez Jose Enrique, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Sanchez Jose Enrique.
    • 85:37 Givaldinho Hulk takes a short corner.
    • 83:08 Shot comes in from Luis Suarez from the free kick, save by Viacheslav Malafeev.
    • 83:08 Booking Carlos Luis Neto shown a yellow card.
    • 82:29 Carlos Luis Neto concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Suarez.
    • 81:53 Corner from the right by-line taken by Stewart Downing, save by Viacheslav Malafeev.
    • 81:36 Substitution Viktor Faitzulin joins the action as a substitute, replacing Alexander Kerzhakov.
    • 77:21 Substitution Raheem Sterling leaves the field to be replaced by Leiva Lucas.
    • 74:40 Givaldinho Hulk decides to take the corner short.
    • 74:18 Givaldinho Hulk takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Jamie Carragher.
    • 71:34 The assist for the goal came from Roman Shirokov.
    • 71:34 GOAL - Sergei SemakZenit St Petersburg 2 - 0 Liverpool Sergei Semak finds the back of the net with a goal from close range high into the middle of the goal. Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 Liverpool.
    • 69:02 GOAL - Givaldinho HulkZenit St Petersburg 1 - 0 Liverpool Givaldinho Hulk gets on the score sheet with a brilliant goal from outside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 Liverpool.
    • 65:14 Stewart Downing takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Carlos Luis Neto.
    • 63:29 Roman Shirokov concedes a free kick for a foul on Stewart Downing. Jamie Carragher restarts play with the free kick.
    • 59:49 Luis Suarez has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 58:58 Martin Skrtel restarts play with the free kick.
    • 58:58 Booking Tomas Hubocan is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 58:31 Foul by Tomas Hubocan on Steven Gerrard, free kick awarded.
    • 58:00 Aleksandr Aniukov challenges Raheem Sterling unfairly and gives away a free kick. Martin Skrtel takes the free kick.
    • 53:12 Substitution Sergei Semak on for Miguel Danny.
    • 52:56 Shot by Axel Witsel from a long way out goes over the net.
    • 51:25 Foul by Nicolas Lombaerts on Stewart Downing, free kick awarded. Steven Gerrard crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Roman Shirokov makes a clearance.
    • 49:09 Corner taken by Stewart Downing from the left by-line played to the near post, Nicolas Lombaerts makes a clearance.
    • 48:36 Glen Johnson takes a shot. Save made by Viacheslav Malafeev.
    • 46:51 The referee blows for offside against Raheem Sterling. Free kick taken by Carlos Luis Neto.
    • 45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+2:06 The referee calls an end to the first half.
    • 45:00+1:42 Free kick awarded for a foul by Luis Suarez on Axel Witsel. Axel Witsel takes the free kick.
    • 45:00+1:12 Givaldinho Hulk takes a shot from 30 yards. Comfortable save by Jose Reina.
    • 44:38 Luis Suarez challenges Carlos Luis Neto unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Carlos Luis Neto.
    • 44:09 Stewart Downing has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.
    • 41:27 Jordan Henderson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Axel Witsel. Nicolas Lombaerts restarts play with the free kick.
    • 40:06 Axel Witsel gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique. Sanchez Jose Enrique takes the direct free kick.
    • 39:35 Glen Johnson has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide left of the target.
    • 38:22 The ball is sent over by Carlos Luis Neto, Jose Reina makes a comfortable save.
    • 37:01 Sanchez Jose Enrique fouled by Axel Witsel, the ref awards a free kick. Sanchez Jose Enrique takes the free kick.
    • 27:17 Axel Witsel takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 26:49 Axel Witsel takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 24:27 The referee blows for offside against Luis Suarez. Igor Denisov restarts play with the free kick.
    • 23:44 Luis Suarez gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aleksandr Aniukov. Viacheslav Malafeev takes the free kick.
    • 22:31 Martin Skrtel challenges Axel Witsel unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Axel Witsel.
    • 21:10 Steven Gerrard takes the inswinging corner, Foul by Martin Skrtel on Tomas Hubocan, free kick awarded. Viacheslav Malafeev restarts play with the free kick.
    • 18:38 The ball is sent over by Givaldinho Hulk, Jordan Henderson manages to make a clearance.
    • 18:00 Givaldinho Hulk takes a outswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Stewart Downing.
    • 16:10 Free kick taken by Igor Denisov.
    • 16:10 Booking Martin Skrtel shown a yellow card.
    • 16:02 Foul by Martin Skrtel on Roman Shirokov, free kick awarded.
    • 11:56 Nicolas Lombaerts challenges Jordan Henderson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Steven Gerrard.
    • 8:43 Givaldinho Hulk challenges Sanchez Jose Enrique unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sanchez Jose Enrique restarts play with the free kick.
    • 5:39 The offside flag is raised against Luis Suarez. Aleksandr Aniukov takes the direct free kick.
    • 4:52 Short corner taken by Aleksandr Aniukov.
    • 4:29 Givaldinho Hulk takes a shot. Save by Jose Reina.
    • 2:40 Luis Suarez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Nicolas Lombaerts takes the direct free kick.
    • 1:59 Luis Suarez has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the goal.
    • 1:02 Alexander Kerzhakov takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 0:34 Short corner worked by Givaldinho Hulk.
    • 0:00 The game kicks-off.

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