Utrecht claimed a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win over Zenit Saint Petersburg in the first leg of their Europa League playoff.

Zenit arrived in the Netherlands as heavy favourites for the first leg, but buoyed on by a ferocious support in the Stadion Galgenwaard, Utrecht attacked the Russian giants from the start and pinned them into their own half.

However, when chances fell Utrecht’s way they were wasted with Cyriel Dessers particularly guilty of passing up three excellent chances in a goalless first half, while Zakaria Labyad and Gyrano Kerk also went close.

In the second half, Roberto Mancini’s side raised their game and started to deal with the pacey Utrecht attack, but David Jensen remained largely untroubled in the home side’s goal.

With 15 minutes to go Utrecht got the goal their play deserved with Desser’s header only palmed into the path of Labyad by the Zenit keeper and the midfielder nodded the ball into the net from close range. Zenit failed to react to the opener and it was Utrecht who continued to attack but they couldn’t add a second before the end.

A famous European night for Erik Ten Hag’s men and they head to Russia next week in a great position to progress to the next round.

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