RECAP: EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht received a thrashing at the hands of Zenit St. Petersburg while Jozy Altidore watched from the bench as Villarreal secured a spot in the knockout round against Dinamo Zagreb.
Zenit St. Petersburg 3 - 1 RSC Anderlecht
Sacha Kljestan played the full 90 minutes for Anderlecht on Wednesday evening, picking up a late yellow card as they were easily beaten on the road by Zenit St. Petersburg.
Zenit needed just 12 minutes to jump into the lead in the icey encounter, as Portuguese international midfielder Miguel Danny set up Aleksey Ionov on the right side of the penalty area for his low shot just inside the near post.
The Russians were clearly in control, although they needed until midway through the second half to increase their advantage. Danny was again the instigator, sending a ball through the defense for Alexander Bukharov to easily put past Anderlecht keeper Silvio Aliaj Proto to put the team ahead by two.
Second-half substitute Ziguy Badibanga did provide Anderlecht with some hope in the final minutes, hitting a dangerous cross which the Brazilian Kanu headed into the net to cut Zenit's lead to one goal with three minutes remaining.
Any chance of a comeback was squashed just seconds later, however, when Zenit took the subsequent kickoff straight towards Proto's goal, and earned the final 3-1 score thanks to a fine header by Szabolcs Huszti off of a cross by Fernando Meira.
The loss leaves Anderlecht in third place, three points behind AEK Athens in the race for the groups final spot in the knockout round. They will need a victory at home over last-place Hajduk Split on December 16 combined with a Zenit win in Athens in order to pass into the next round.
In the meantime, they will visit SV Zulte-Waregem in Jupiler league play on Sunday as they try to solidify their hold on first place in the league.
Jozy Altidore was an unused substitute for Villarreal on Thursday for their 3-0 win at home over Dinamo Zagreb. The win puts the Yellow Submarine atop Group G and guarantees their place in next year's knockout round.
Freddy Adu did not suit up for FC Aris' 3-2 Group B win in Spain over holders Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.