A historic evening for AA Gent

A 2-1 home win against Saint-Petersburg was enough to ensure that that Belgian football champions AA Gent make it through to the first knock-out stage of the UEFA Champions League. The Buffaloes' qualification for the Champions League final 16 is the first by a Belgian team since Sporting Anderlecht back in the 2000-2001 season.

AA Gent finished second in Group H with a very respectable 10 points from 6 games. The group was won by the Buffaloes’ opponents in Tuesday evening’s game Zenit Saint-Petersburg.

The draw for next round of Europe’s premier club cup competition will be made on Monday 14 December.

When the match began AA Gent knew that a third straight Champions League win would assure them of a place in the final 16 regardless of the result of the match between Valencia and Lyon. Mitrovic and Asare created danger early on for the Buffaloes.

Meanwhile, Dzyuba looked dangerous for the Russians. AA Gent took the lead on the half hour when Depoitre (small photo) headed them ahead from a Moses Simon Cross. The goal served to turn up the heat still further when Depoitre seemed to be on his way to making it 2-0, but the Zenith keeper Lodygin saved with his legs.

The second half saw an improved Zenith and a more uncertain AA Gent. Rjazantsev had his shot saved by Sels. Zenith draw level on 65 minutes through Dzyuba after some poor defending by AA Gent.

The news that Lyon had gone two-up against AA Gent’s rivals for the second place in group F Valencia seemed to spur the Buffaloes on. Milicevic scored what was to be the winning goal after some good work from Simon on 78 minutes.

There was plenty of excitement, but no further goals in the 12 minutes of normal time plus 5 minutes of injury time that remained and the match ended 2-1 to AA Gent.