With Celtic exiting the Europa League after a 3-1 aggregate loss to Zenit St Petersburg, here’s a quick glance at what the Russian newspapers had to say about the two-legged tie...
Writing for Sport Express, Gosha Chernov suggested that the Parkhead atmosphere had played a big part in Celtic’s first leg win: “Paradoxically, in St Petersburg, Celtic had twice as much of the ball as the hosts, but there was almost no urgency. Apparently the magic of Celtic Park really exists - the team won in Glasgow due to the white-hot atmosphere.”
Chernov also highlighted Celtic captain Scott Brown’s decision to wander the streets of St Petersburg in just a t-shirt, adding: “Scott Brown could have easily played the 90 minutes even with the stadium roof open.”
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Sport Express also rated all the players out of 10, giving Moussa Dembele 5.5/10 - “invisible in attack” - while Callum McGregor, the “hero of the first match” was also marked 5.5/10 and “suffered from a lack of service.”
Kieran Tierney was graded 5/10: “Made a number of mistakes in defence, one of which led to the third Zenit goal.”
The highest-marked Celtic player was Olivier Ntcham, awarded 6/10: “Not for nothing was Ntcham singled out by Mancini at the press conference. In the first match he tried to break down Zenit attacks in the middle of the park. Created a dangerous partnership together with [Scott] Sinclair in the second half but couldn’t reduce the deficit.”
Kommersant’s coverage of the game made reference to Zenit needing to put in a “fundamentally different” performance to Glasgow, and also referenced the impact the “crazy pressure of the stands and opponents” had on Celtic’s victory.
Sovetsky Sport carried quotes from Alexander Kokorin, who said: “When we scored the first, we knew it wouldn’t be easy for Celtic.
“Everyone is happy that we won 3-0. After we scored the first, we sat back to let them attack us so that we could start counter-attacks.
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“We knew at home it would be much easier, and everything went our way.
“In the first game we played badly; we did a lot of stupid things in Glasgow. I wouldn’t say Celtic surprised us, but physically they were stronger.”
Alexander Fedorovsky said in his coverage of the match for Sovetsky Sport: “Awesome support from Celtic, by the way. It is known that many in [Russia] support them and some are even sitting in the away section today.”
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His colleague Andrey Vasilyev noted that, even with parts of the Krestovsky Stadium shut due at UEFA’s orders, there was still a wall of noise in the arena that spurred Zenit onto victory.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta journalist Artur Nanyan wrote: “Last week in Scotland, Zenit gave one of their worst performances this season. Throughout the entire match, they didn’t create a single dangerous chance. But even with the most slender of advantages, Celtic were the favourites [to go through].
“Zenit’s reaction to defeat was spot on. In the return leg, they were much quicker, and brighter.”
Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s live updates, provided by Nikita Lashkul, suggested that Zenit had “smashed” Celtic, who had “created nothing apart from a couple of weak shots.”
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