Zenit Reaches Final in Style

ST. PETERSBURG Ч Zenit St. Petersburg may not be the most fashionable club but the Russian champion made the rest of Europe take notice when it crushed German giant Bayern Munich 4-0 on Thursday to reach the UEFA Cup final.

Zenit coach Dick Advocaat, was not, however, comparing his team to Chelsea or Manchester United, who contest the Champions League final in Moscow on May 21.

"Well, we are not an elite club, not yet anyway," the Dutchman said.

"We don't have the status of Chelsea or other big European clubs, but hopefully if we continue to play like we did tonight, then anything is possible."

Zenit's attacking display against the four-time European champion in the second leg at Petrovsky stadium impressed even the vanquished coach.

"Any team that beats Bayern 4-0 must be the favorites [for the final]," Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.

Ironically, Zenit will play Scotland's Rangers in the May 14 final in Manchester, England, while the English clubs will go the other way to contest the Champions League showpiece in the Russian capital a week later.

Zenit, playing in its first European final, will now try to emulate CSKA Moscow, which became the first Russian club to lift the UEFA Cup in 2005.

They will, however, have to do it without the services of their top striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The Russia international was booked late in the game, after netting twice to join Bayern striker Luca Toni as the competition's top scorer on 10 goals. He will miss the final through suspension.

"It was a stupid foul, but I hope my teammates will carry the load for me," Pogrebnyak said.

Advocaat is used to such setbacks, after Zenit faced Bayern without three suspended players Ч Russia playmaker Andrei Arshavin, Czech international Radek Sirl and Dutch midfielder Fernando Ricksen.

"No one is irreplaceable. Other players will have to do a bit more to get the job done," he said.

The Dutchman, who moved to Zenit in 2006 after quitting as South Korea coach, made winning the European trophy a priority this season.

"Zenit have never played in a European final, so this UEFA Cup means a great deal for this club, for the fans, for the whole city," he said.

Zenit will make its Champions League debut in September and Advocaat has already asked for cash to strengthen the squad.

"When you compete against the best clubs in Europe you can't rely on 11 or 12 players," he said.

n†Sunday's league match between Zenit and CSKA Moscow was postponed until July 30 to help Zenit prepare for the UEFA Cup final.

Zenit's games on May 7, 11 and 16 had already been postponed until after the domestic season resumes following June's European Championship finals.