The gave everything. They did everything they could. They pushed everything out of their powerful bodies. The players of FC Utrecht showed in Saint Petersburg that not only they can play very good football, also they have character. And yet it was not enough. It was just not enough against the Russian stars of FK Zenit. The Russians won, with a little bit of luck and after extra time, 2-0.
Relief in Mancini’s squad
It was Aleksandr Kokorin who hurt FC Utrecht twice. At the end of the first half of the extra time he gave what appeared to be the final blow. Kokorin scored, pulled off his shirt and celebrated his goal with the crowd in the Saint Petersburg Stadium. The relief was big for Roberto Mancini’s class team, but that was not fully justified.
Sigh of relief
Because just as with the 1-0 score, also with the 2-0 score one goal for FC Utrecht would have been enough to reach the group phase of the Europa League. And that goal seemed to be scored in the second half of the extra time. Sander van de Streek headed and the ball wobbled over the goal line. But according to the arbitration there was a foul on goalkeeper Andrei Lunev. No party for Utrecht and a sigh of relief for the Russians. The 2-1 was disallowed.
Everything sometimes is not enough
Also in the minutes that remained, FC Utrecht was not able to score that one goal that would wash away both goals by Kokorin – the first one he scored in the ninth minute already. Trainer/coach Erik ten Hag’s team tried, did what they could, but were not able to break through the Russian defence. Everything Is everything, but sometimes that is not enough.
FK Zenit Sint-Petersburg - FC Utrecht 2-0 (1-0)
9. Aleksandr Kokorin 1-0
105. Aleksandr Kokorin 2-0
Yellow cards: Oleg Shatov, Leandro Paredes, Aleksandr Erokhin, Matias Kranevitter, Aleksandr Kokorin (FK Zenit Sint-Petersburg), Zakaria Labyad (FC Utrecht).
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande.
Line-up FK Zenit Sint-Petersburg:
Andrei Lunev; Igor Smolnikov, Emanuel Mammana, Branislav Ivanovic, Domenico Criscito; Leandro Paredes, Aleksandr Erokhin, Daler Kuzyaev; Sebastian Driussi (73. Dmitri Poloz), Aleksandr Kokorin (107. Artem Dzyuba), Oleg Shatov (89. Matias Kranevitter).
Line-up FC Utrecht:
David Jensen; Sean Klaiber, Ramon Leeuwin (106. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck), Willem Janssen, Edson Braafheid (75. Mark van der Maarel); Yassin Ayoub, Sander van de Streek, Urby Emanuelson, Zakaria Labyad; Gyrano Kerk (89. Lukas Gӧrtler), Cyriel Dessers.