Benfica beat Zenit to reach Champions League last eight

Maxi Pereira
Maxi Pereira

Maxi Pereira and Nelson Oliveira booked Benfica's place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg.

They triumphed 4-3 on aggregate as the visitors rarely threatened despite dominating possession.

Pereira found the net with a powerful close-range shot in first-half stoppage time.

Zenit did not change their tactics after conceding and Oliveira struck on the break in time added on.

Zenit had never reached this stage before and, although manager Luciano Spalletti promised that his team had not come to Lisbon for a draw, their negativity suggested otherwise.

Lone striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov was totally isolated as the Russians defended deep, but Pereira's strike just before the break left their gameplan in tatters.

Other than Artur's sloppiness almost allowing Roman Shirokov in during the first half, the Benfica goalkeeer had little to do despite the visitors having most of the ball after the interval.

Benfica forced Zenit back right from the start. Goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev pulled off a string of fine stops, with a tipped-over save from Bruno Cesar's curling effort the highlight of his work.

But he could do nothing about Benfica's opener. Cesar clipped a ball into Axel Witsel, whose powerful shot was blocked by Malafeev before he managed to back-heel for Pereira to find the bottom corner.

The Russians had to be more positive after the break but Benfica looked even more dangerous on the break and Witsel had a drive deflected wide after a quick counter attack.

An unmarked Jardel should have increased the advantage from the Cesar corner that followed and Oscar Cardozo also clipped a shot wide after racing on to a loose Zenit pass.

Cardozo was also denied with a powerful drive and Zenit finally worked Artur when Bruno Alves tried his luck from 35 yards.

But the impressive Cesar slipped through for Oliveira to clip in a second in stoppage time.