Two early strikes from Diego Buonanotte and Seba Fernandez were not enough to give Malaga the win as they drew 2-2 with Zenit St Petersburg.
With qualification already secure, Manuel Pellegrini named a slightly weakened side for the trip to Russia, as Javier Saviola, Joaquin and Isco were rested.
Despite the home side needing a win to stay in the competition, it was the inexperienced Andalusians who opened the scoring after just eight minutes. A cross from Fernandez found Buonanotte at the far post, and the Argentine tapped in from close range.
And quite unbelievably, just a minute later, they had doubled their lead. A terrible pass from Vyacheslav Malaffev went straight to Roque Santa Cruz, and the Paraguyan striker played a square pass for Fernandez to curl the ball home.
Luciano Spaletti’s side were dominating possession at this point, but were struggling to turn that into chances created. Hulk and Alexander Kerzhakov looked completely disjointed up front and were getting no support from midfield.
The Boquerones on the other hand were attacking with real intent, and constantly looked dangerous on the break against Zenit’s shaky backline.
There was no joy to be had however, as Malafeev recovered from his earlier wobble to ensure that it was just 2-0 his side trailed by at the break.
After the break, the home team continued to monopolise the ball, but their play in the final third improved vastly. Roman Shirkov went close with a fierce drive, but it was Danny who eventually pulled one back.
A cross from Aleksandr Anyukov found the former Maritimo man, and he stroked it past Willy Caballero from inside the area.
Just moments later though, it really should have been 2-2. Kerzhakov rounded Caballero, but inexplicably missed from just four yards out.
It was a luck escape for Malaga, but they couldn’t quite hold out for the win, as with just two minutes left to play Viktor Fayzulin tapped in after Danny’s miss to seal the point.
Zenit St Petersburg 2-2 Malaga
Scorers: Danny 49 (Z), Fayzulin 88 (Z); Buonanotte 8 (M), Fernandez 9 (M)
Zenit: Malafeev; Anyukov, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Hubocan; Witsel, Denisov, Shirokov (Fayzulin 72); Danny, Kerzhakov, Hulk
Malaga: Caballero; Gamez, Demichelis (Weligton 45), Onyewu, Eliseu; Fernandez (Juanmi 76), Toulalan, Camacho, Duda (Portillo 63); Buonanotte, Santa Cruz
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