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Jonas snatches stoppage time winner for Benfica over Zenit

Jonas struck with a stoppage-time header for Benfica as they beat an ultra-cautious Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Benfica's Brazilian forward Jonas Oliveira (R) celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match SL Benfica vs FC Zenith Saint-Petersburg at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on February 16, 2016. /

Brazilian born Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira with a stoppage-time header to end 90 minutes of frustration for Benfica as they beat an ultra-cautious Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Nicolas Gaitan floated a free kick into the area and the Brazilian rose to break the deadlock. Zenit defender Domenico Criscito had been sent off for a second yellow card for the foul which led to the free kick.

The first half had been an unsightly slog with 16 fouls, seven offsides and four bookings.

Benfica came to life in the second half but still struggled to create chances against a tightly-packed, well-drilled Zenit, who were playing their first competitive match since Dec. 9.

Jonas had the best effort of the first half when the Benfica forward unleashed a shot from the edge of the area but Zenit's Nicolas Lombaerts just got his head to the ball and his touch forced it centimetres wide of the post.

Zenit had to wait until the 36th minute for their first shot on goal but Hulk, who got little change out of Benfica's Eliseu, fired a low effort wide from 25 metres.

Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar finally made a save in the 52nd minute when he parried a dangerous shot from Axel Witsel. He also had to stop a header from the Belgian midfielder from the resulting corner.

Julio Cesar
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Benfica continued to dominate and Gaitan was foiled again by Lodygin before his team mate Jardel turned the ball wide after Victor Lindelof headed down Renato Sanches's cross.

Zenit midfielder Garcia will also miss next month's second leg in Russia after he too was booked, and the visitors were indebted to Lodygin on 69 minutes as he produced an excellent save to deny Gaitan from close range.

However, Zenit were forced to see out the final few minutes a man down after Criscito was shown a second yellow card, and they paid dearly when Gaitan's free-kick was headed home by Jonas in the first minute of stoppage time.


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