Zenit St. Petersburg picked up an impressive 2-1 win away to Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, but it wasn't enough to overturn the 4-2 defeat they suffered in the home fixture.
Hulk opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour, before Sebastian Kehl pegged the Russians back on the stroke of halftime. Salomon Rondón offered a lifeline by putting Zenit back ahead in the final 20 minutes, but it was too little, too late, and last year's finalists progress into this season's quarterfinals.
Even so, new Zenit St. Petersburg coach André Villas-Boas -- who doesn't take charge officially until tomorrow -- will be rather pleased with what he's got to work with. Save for ceding a good early chance to Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Zenit looked confident in the first half. They managed to keep the ball well in midfield, and, thanks to the industry of their mobile midfield pivot, make Dortmund look rather pedestrian going forward.
However, the German hosts were still scarcely challenged at the back, and it took a moment of sheer brilliance from Hulk for Zenit to breach Roman Weidenfeller's goal. He skipped away from Nuri Şahin before unleashing a thunderbolt from distance to spark some life into the tie -- though the Russians still needed two goals.
More often than not they looked to play straight through the middle, where Dortmund's Şahin and Kehl were on hand to gobble up any balls that came their way. With just over five minutes of the half remaining they did stretch the play out wide through Oleg Shatov, though the winger lashed a shot wide of Weidenfeller's post after skipping inside.
It would prove to be a costly miss, as a minute later Dortmund netted an equalizing goal. Marcel Schmelzer overlapped down the left, delivering a cross for Kehl to head into the back of the net.
The goal seemed to have irreparably dented Zenit's hopes of a miraculous comeback, with Dortmund laying siege to Vyacheslav Malafeev's penalty area throughout the second half. However, the visitors had other ideas, with substitute striker Rondón providing a glimmer of hope by nodding Domenico Criscito's cross beyond Weidenfeller.
Unfortunately there were fewer than 20 minutes remaining, and the Russians still needed two goals to avoid crashing out. Despite their best efforts, it was too big an ask.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Schmelzer (Durm 77'), Hummels, Sokratis, Piszczek; Şahin, Kehl; Großkreutz, Mkhitaryan (Jojić 69'), Aubameyang (Hofmann 90+1'); Lewandowski.
Goals: Kehl (38').
Zenit St. Petersburg: Malafeev; Criscito, Lombaerts (Neto 46'), Hubočan, Anyukov; Fayzulin (Smolnikov 83'), Witsel; Shatov, Danny, Hulk; Kerzhakov (Rondón 62').
Goals: Hulk (16'), Rondón (73').