ZENIT SYSTEMS TOO GOOD FOR BANTAMS

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)_ ##### – Match 05 – InterToto Cup Semi Final First Leg – July 26th 2000

– Zenit St. Petersburg 1 (Tarassov 16)

– Bradford City 0

A well-finished 16th-minute Yevgeny Tarrasov effort was all that separated St. Petersburg and Bradford City in the first leg of the InterToto Cup semi-final, much to the despair and amazement of the partisan 20,000 Russian crowd.

Andrei Kobelev, playing brilliantly in the hole, hammered a shot past Aidan Davison with the first of what proved to be a series of stunning drives. Although the ball whalloped against an upright, Tarassov was on hand for the rebound to sidefoot home the simplest of chances from 13 yards.

Bradford were a trifle lucky to be just one goal down, even at this early. It quickly became clear this was going to be City’s sternest test to date after playing the minnows of FK Atlantas and the so-so Dutch side RKC Waalwijk in the previous two rounds.

With Zenit currently in the middle of their latest Russian League season, and lying seventh, their fitness and alert play was worrying the Bantams from the off. Inside forty five seconds Yevgeny Tarassov came close with a 19-yard shot on the spin, but it found the side netting.

Zenit employed wingers Sergei Osipov and Aleksandre Spivak, and their pace and penetration hurt Bradford’s full-backs Lee Sharpe (pictured left) and Ian Nolan. The duo weren’t aided by the absence of influential skipper David Wetherall. After the decisive strike, Kobelev was thwarted by the woodwork twice within a minute.

In the 30th minute he dispossessed David Hopkin just outside the Bantams box before thundering in another 20-yard drive. Davison was again beaten and rooted to the spot, but the ball rebounded off the inside of the right-hand post and flirted with the goalline before being cleared.

He followed that with his best effort of the half, this time a stinging 24-yard half volley cannoning off the crossbar, flicked away brilliantly by a Davison.

Bradford started the second-half as though manager Chris Hutchings, sensing a mauling, had exercised his full vocal range at half-time. In the 47th minute David Hopkin’s teasing delivery found Dean Windass. However, the former builder’s effort did little to cement any threat.

St. Petersburg poured forward again however, and Davison made a hash of a clearance near the penalty spot, allowing Igonine the chance to add a second, but Peter Atherton was in the right place to hack it away.

City applied some pressure of their own after the hour mark and Saunders glancing header was only just over from Sharpe’s corner after 63 minutes.

But the visitors managed to kill the game off by defending solidly and deeply in numbers, and keeping their concentration, and in retrospect will be glad that their Russian opponents are defending such a slender lead when hostilities resume at Valley Parade.

  • St. Petersburg: Malafeev, Zvetkov, Katulsky, Nedorezov, Osipov, Gorchkov (Gorovoy 76), Igonin, Spivak, Kobelev (Ugarov 67), Popovich, Tarassov
  • Subs Not Used: Borodine, Vernidub, Nagibine, Lepekhin, Archavin

  • Bradford City: Davison, O’Brien, Atherton, Myers, Nolan, Hopkin (Whalley 86), McCall, Windass, Sharpe, Mills, Saunders
  • Subs Not Used: Clarke, Blake, Halle, Westwood, Rankin, Grant
  • Booked: Myers

  • Attendance: 18,500

  • Referee: Bruno Coue (France)

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