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Konstantin Zyryanov: “We just wanted to avoid losing badly in Munich”

The author of the “goal for the Hermitage” in Zenit`s home match with Bayern Munich in the 2008 UEFA Cup remembers how his team prepared for its match with the German club in Munich, and how he understood that we was playing against people, not gods.

— Konstantin, do you remember your feelings from the match with Bayern Munich in 2008?
— What happened in that year with them? Let me remember...
— Well, after we had the fantastic victory over Marseille, the draw gave us the German giant.
— Obviously, I can`t forget playing in the 2008 UEFA Cup. I remember that everybody was totally sure that Bayern Munich would play in the final. So everybody was quite calm when the draw was announced. There wasn`t any impending doom, of course, but we weren`t exactly expecting to win either.

— How did it feel for you to come onto the pitch against Bayern Munich in the first match?
— Obviously, I was nervous, and I don`t think I was the only one. None of us had ever played in a match of that level, with so many fans as there were at Alliance Arena.

— And what did you want to get from the match?
— Probably we just wanted to avoid losing by a big score. When the score became 1:0 in favor of Bayern, we couldn`t think about anything else. And I doubt anybody believed in our success at that moment, either among the players or even among the fans.

— And then, when Fayzulin tied the score off Lucio`s head, did you think that you`ll get lucky? That`s what Viktor said.
— I wouldn`t say that. We played a lot better in the second half, as far as I remember, and could have scored more. The Germans put a lot of pressure on us at the end of the game, but even then they didn`t make many good scoring opportunities. So it`s not right to say that we just got lucky. We worked hard too.

— After tying 1:1 away, did the return leg at Petrovsky take a different tone?
— At that time the field was far from being in ideal condition, and that was obviously in our favor. The opponent had to score at least once, but it was really hard to make good passing combinations on that field. We didn`t have to get used to those conditions. We already beat Marseille and Villarreal on our field. So the field was in our favor, and the stadium, of course too, and we just had to keep a shutout. Which we did.

— The home match went almost perfectly for Zenit, didn`t it?
— Ya, you can say that: we got a quick goal, and that had a big effect on the outcome of the match.

— But your goal really deserves a place in the Hermitage. Did you use your intuition to score on Kahn in that moment, or did you see that the goalie was standing up straight, and that you should shoot into the far corner?
— Ya, the goal really was beautiful, I won`t argue with you about that. But the shot wasn`t as important in that episode as was my fake out of the defenders. I managed to fake out two defenders at once.

— Did you have the feeling after that match that you had already won the cup? After all, Zenit was clearly the favorite in the final.
— No, I wouldn`t say we were the favorites. Glasgow Rangers was playing very well in the tournament, and you can`t beat a team like that so easily. Maybe people say now that Zenit is the favorite in every match, but people didn`t think like that about us at that time.

— Did such football stars as Ribery, Kahn, and Schweinsteiger become mere mortals for you after the semifinals? Or did you never think of them like as gods?
—Probably we all knew after the first match that they`re just normal people, not gods.

— Who would you point out in Bayern`s current squad?
— Honestly, nobody, because I didn`t watch a single Bayern match this season. In terms of names I would name Tymoshchuk, probably.