Giuliano bags brace as Zenit St Petersburg defeat Dundalk
Published 03/11/2016 | 20:51
A brace from Giuliano undid Dundalk in Europa League Group D as they went down 2-1 to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.
The Brazilian playmaker scored in the return fixture a fortnight ago and was on the mark again, scoring in the 42nd and 78th minutes.
The latter turned out to be the winner after Daryl Horgan had levelled for Dundalk (53).
It left Giuliano as the Irish club's bogeyman once again.
Dundalk centre-back Brian Gartland gave the ball away and Zenit dangerman Aleksandr Kerzhakov pounced and squared to his Brazilian teammate, who made no mistake on 41 minutes.
Horgan was called up by the Irish international team on Wednesday and the left winger smashed Dundalk level after a characteristically storming run on the break.
With eight minutes of the second half gone he held off two defenders, left them for dead with great pace and produced a fine finish into the left-hand corner.
But it was not enough and a Zenit side which dominated possession earned a narrow victory amid the snow storms of northern Russia which secures qualification.
Giuliano got scrappy but crucial second after the ball bobbled around in the box with 12 minutes to go.
He got his first after Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields received the ball in the centre circle but played it back to Gartland.
The centre-back appeared wrong-footed and was quickly dispossessed by Kerzhakov. He calmly moved the ball sideways to Giuliano who took one touch before finishing clinically.
In the aftermath Dundalk's Ronan Finn received a yellow after lashing out.
For the first 20 minutes Dundalk had looked comfortable with Zenit confined to half chances.
Forward Oleg Shatov threatened and forced Dundalk's keeper Gary Rogers to push the ball over the bar with a powerful drive.
Gradually Zenit upped the pace and dominated possession as they did in Dublin.
Horgan's strike was a shot in the arm for the Lilywhites.
A ball upfield from Dundalk's Sean Gannon met the head of Mauricio whose cushioned back header to a Luis Neto who had stepped up allowed Horgan to race onto it. With two defenders trailing him he shimmied to his right and finished brilliantly.
But Giuliano struck after a ball in from the right and Mauricio knocked it to him during a scramble.
Dundalk had hit the woodwork twice, once in the first half with a cross from John Mountney and in the dying minutes as Patrick McEleney picked up a precise pass between the centre backs from Horgan. His effort bounced off the underside of the cross bar.
But it was the Russian favourites who cheered on the final whistle with a closely-fought victory.