MONACO, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - Zenit St. Petersburg have beaten Manchester United 2-1 to lift the Super Cup, the annual fixture between the holders of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup.
Manchester United won the Champions League in Moscow last May, a week after Zenit had claimed the UEFA Cup in the Red Devils' hometown, and the two sides faced off on Friday evening in Monaco.
Zenit left their unsettled star Andrei Arshavin on the bench and fielded the player widely seen as his replacement - the Portuguese attacking midfielder, Danny. The St Petersburg club, controlled by state-run Gazprom, earlier this week paid Dynamo Moscow 30 million euros to secure the services of the talented 25-year-old. The fee was a new Russian transfer record.
The 2007 Russian champions started the brighter, and deservedly took the lead on the stroke of half-time, Pavel Pogrebnyak heading home from a corner.
The second-half saw Arshavin make an appearance, but it was Danny who stole the show, slicing through the United defense for a fine solo goal on the stroke of the hour.
Manchester came back, and former Spartak Moscow defender Nemanja Vidic slammed home a close range shot in the 73rd minute.
Zenit did more than hold on for victory though, and Danny could have had a third in the dying minutes after a fine run and one-two with Arshavin.
United's fans thought their side had scored an equalizer a few minutes later, but a replay clearly showed that Paul Scholes had put the ball in the net with his hand, and the midfielder was shown a red card.
"This is a great step forward for Russian soccer," said Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev. "This match was important for the whole of Russia."
Zenit now look to the Champions League, which begins on September 16. The new Super Cup holders are in a group with Real Madrid, Juventus and Belarus champions BATE Borisov. On this form, Zenit cannot be written off.
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