Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 12th 2014 Contents A47
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MOSCOW---Zenit St Petersburg fired
coach Luciano Spalletti yesterday fol-
lowing a poor run of form despite hav-
ing turned the Russian club into a
consistent Champions League team.
Besides winning two Russian league
titles in three years at Zenit, the 55-
year-old Italian was the first coach to
take the St Petersburg side beyond the
group stage of the Champions League.
Zenit, owned by Russian state gas
company Gazprom, has only one vic-
tory from its last 11 competitive games
and faces elimination from Europe
after losing 4-2 at home to Borussia
Dortmund in the last 16 of the Cham-
pions League. Zenit said Spalletti s
temporary replacement would be re-
serve coach Sergei Semak, who retired
as a Zenit player after last season.
Semak inherits a team in second
place in the Russian league but faces
the task of playing defending cham-
pion CSKA Moscow on Saturday and
the second leg against Dortmund three
days later. (AP)
Bayern Munich and Atletico
Madrid sealed their Champions
League quarterfinals spots, yester-
Bayern won 3-1 on aggregate over
Arsenal in the last 16 after a 1-1
draw at the Allianz Arena while
Diego Costa added two more goals
to his breakout season to help lead
Atletico Madrid to a 4-1 victory over
AC Milan and into the next round
for the first time since 1997.
Bayern midfielder Bastian Schwe-
insteiger finished coolly from Franck
Ribery s cross to put the home side
in a commanding position in the
Lukas Podolski responded within
two minutes against his former side
by dispossessing Philipp Lahm in
the penalty area and smashing the
ball past Manuel Neuer to the roof
of the net from an acute angle.
The goals breathed life into a game
that Bayern mostly dominated.
Nerves gripped the home side---per-
haps as a result of the 2-0 home
defeat to Arsenal at the same stage
last season---but they didn t last
Thomas Mueller had the chance
to make it 2-1 after Arjen Robben
went down under Laurent Kosciel-
ny s challenge, but Lukasz Fabianski
saved his penalty on the line in injury
Arsenal needed at least two goals
but barely threatened in the first
half. The home side enjoyed the
lion s share of possession and
worked quickly to recover the ball
after losing it.
Dante earned a yellow card for
taking down Alex Oxlade-Cham-
berlain on a counterattack in the
eighth. The Arsenal midfielder
would have been through on goal,
and Dante will now miss Bayern s
Podolski forced a corner on
another rare break. It was no trouble
for the Bayern defense. The former
Bayern forward was later booked
for kicking the ball away in frus-
Javi Martinez thought he scored
with a flick on from the resultant
free kick but it was ruled offside.
Arsenal was living on scraps. Oliv-
er Giroud came closest with a header
from a corner. Neuer caught it eas-
ily.The best chances fell to Arjen
Robben at the other end. The
Dutchman mishit Franck Ribery s
floated cross and sent the ball over
from 10 meters in the 20th, and
should have scored again in the 38th,
when Laurent Koscielny blocked his
shot with the goalkeeper stranded.
Mario Mandzukic headed over
shortly afterward, and Mario Goetze
tested Lukasz Fabianski with a volley
from short range before the break.
It seemed just a matter of time
before Bayern made the break-
through. Ribery surged through on
the left and found the ideally placed
Schweinsteiger to open the scoring.
Podolski gave the visitors some
hope but it was always going to be
Diego Costa jumped high to stab
home at the far post following a
Milan turnover just three minutes
into a raucous contest at the capacity
Vicente Calderon Stadium.
While Kaka gave Milan some hope
by cancelling out the opener in the
27th, Atletico went into the break
in front when Arda Turan s volleyed
shot looped over Milan goalkeeper
With Milan striker Mario Balotelli
ineffective, Atletico slowly began to
pull away after the restart as Raul
Garcia headed home before Diego
Costa completed the 5-1 aggregate
win with his 29th goal of the season
in the 85th minute.
Milan s exit left Europe s top-tier
tournament without an Italian team
in the last eight, which Atletico
reached for the first time in 17 years.
Michael Essien was particularly
exposed by Atletico s speed, and his
turnover led Koke to set up Diego
Costa for the acrobatic opener.
Milan began to dominate posses-
sion and bounced back into the con-
test, but Balotelli failed to get power
behind his 24th-minute opportunity
from inside the box.
Atletico was dormant and Milan
made it pay as Kaka reached Andrea
Poli s cross at the far post to head
off defender Juanfran Torres and
beyond goalkeeper Thibaut Cour-
Kaka should have made it 2-1 after
another defensive lapse by Atletico,
but the Brazilian sharply headed
over from alone in the box.
That miss proved costly as Turan
chested the ball down in the 40th
for a quick volley that took a deflec-
tion and dipped over Abbiati.
Balotelli s frustration got the better
of him before halftime as he was
booked for protesting, the Italy strik-
er looking sullen and adrift of his
teammates for most of the match.
All of Atletico s players, meanwhile,
seemed to be contributing as the
Spanish upstarts also thrived off the
boot of Diego Costa.
Atletico started the second half
strong as Gabi Fernandez, who stole
from Essien to set up the opener,
found the post before Courtois
pushed out substitute Robinho s
But Milan would manage no more
as Garcia rose high to nod home in
the 70th before Diego Costa capped
the rout, with the Spain striker drag-
ging the loose ball between Milan
defenders before setting up to cut
a low shot beyond Abbiati.
With Paris Saint-Germain in ram-
pant scoring form and Zlatan Ibrahi-
movic hungrier than ever for goals,
Bayer Leverkusen is facing a tough
task in the Champions League.
Leverkusen needs to score five
goals and keep a clean sheet against
one of Europe s most prolific attacks
in order to qualify outright for the
Manchester City will need an epic
comeback against Barcelona today
to reach the quarterfinals.
Barcelona won the first leg 2-0,
so City will need to create plenty
of goals at the Camp Nou to over-
turn the first-leg deficit.
The Spanish champion has lost
two of its three matches since win-
ning at Etihad Stadium, with ques-
tions swirling around Lionel Messi,
Neymar and coach Gerardo Marti-
no.City, meanwhile, is missing coach
Manuel Pellegrini to a touchline ban
after the Chilean criticised the first-
leg referee. (AP)
Bayern, Atletico reach Champs quarters
Atletico's Diego Costa, right, scores his goal during a Champions League
last 16 second leg football match between Atletico Madrid and AC
Milan, at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, yesterday. Atletico
won 4-1 to advance to the quarterfinals 5-1 on aggregate. AP PHOTO
Zenit fires coach Luciano Spalletti after poor run
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