ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A goal from Danny gave Zenit St. Petersburg a 1-0 win over Benfica Wednesday, giving a huge boost to the Russian team's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Danny struck in the 79th minute with a calm finish off an elegant curling cross from Hulk to earn what Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas called "a very important victory" decided by "one opportunity."
Benfica had the better of the chances until then, with Eduardo Salvio shooting straight at Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin in the 18th and Luisao missing the target from close range five minutes into the second half.
Prior to Danny's goal, Zenit had more shots than Benfica, but made much less impact, coming closest when Hulk's free-kick forced a save from Julio Cesar after six minutes.
Benfica captain Luisao was sent off in stoppage time, earning his second booking for a foul on Oleg Shatov.
The win moves Zenit to second in Group C behind Bayer Leverkusen, while fourth-placed Benfica has been eliminated.
Already without injured striker Alexander Kerzhakov, Zenit lost Nicolas Lombaerts and midfielder Javi Garcia to injury during the match, but neither appeared seriously hurt.