Branislav Ivanovic was the key as Zenit overturned a first-leg deficit against Celtic for a 3-0 victory that sent them into the last 16 of the Europa League.
Having missed the 1-0 defeat in Scotland a week ago, birthday boy Ivanovic proved the unlikely inspiration for Zenit's impressive turnaround at a raucous Krestovsky Stadium.
The veteran defender celebrated turning 34 by scoring the opening goal in the seventh minute, powering in a header from a corner to make it 1-1 on aggregate, before setting up Zenit's third in the second half.
A 25-yard shot from Daler Kuzyaev somehow slipped beyond Dorus De Vries to double the Russian side's lead before the half-hour mark, leaving Brendan Rodgers' team in need of an away goal to keep their European campaign alive.
However, Aleksandr Kokorin bundled in Ivanovic's low cross just after the hour to make sure Roberto Mancini would triumph in the battle between the two former Premier League managers.
12 - Celtic haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 away games in the Europa League, with their last one coming back in November 2009 (0-0 at Hamburg). Porous.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2018
Rodgers kept faith with the same XI that started the first leg in Glasgow, hardly a surprise after he branded their performance at Celtic Park as "brilliant" in the immediate aftermath. Yet their narrow advantage - given to them by Callum McGregor's 78th-minute strike in the first leg – did not last long.
After Leandro Paredes' curling shot was turned around the post by De Vries, Ivanovic lost his marker at the resulting corner to head his side on level terms.
While De Vries had little chance with the opener, he would have expected to do better with Kuzyaev's strike that put Zenit in charge of the tie in the 27th minute.
The midfielder's attempt carried plenty of power but seemed to be heading straight at Celtic's experienced goalkeeper, who failed to set his feet in time as the ball flashed through his outstretched arms and into the middle of the net.
The shot-shy visitors, in contrast, failed to bother Andrey Lunev at the other end of the field, despite dominating possession against opponents happy to work on the counter.
Rodgers reacted to such a tepid opening 45 minutes by sending on Tom Rogic in place of Eboue Kouassi. The substitute wasted no time in trying his luck from distance, though his speculative attempt drifted comfortably over the bar as Celtic struggled in attack.
The tie was put beyond them when Kokorin's run caught out Mikael Lustig, allowing the alert forward to convert Ivanovic's teasing centre from the right at the back post.
With a lead to protect and the clock on their side, Zenit comfortably held firm through to the final whistle to secure a place in Friday's draw for the next round. Celtic, in contrast, will now focus on domestic matters, as they aim to complete the domestic treble for a second successive season.
F/T - Zenit 3-0 Celtic. Goals from Ivanovic, Kuzyaev and Kokorin send us through to the last 16 of the @EuropaLeague and the Scots crashing out 3-1 on aggregate. #ZENCEL #UEL pic.twitter.com/yhQl6fAZRa— FC Zenit in English (@fczenit_en) February 22, 2018
Key Opta stats:
- Zenit advanced from a European tie after losing the first leg for the first time since 2010-11, when they beat Young Boys 4-3 on aggregate in this competition.
- This was Celtic's heaviest defeat in the Europa League/UEFA Cup since October 1991, when they lost 5-1 away at Neuchatel Xamax in the last 32.
- Celtic have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 away games in the Europa League, with their last one coming back in November 2009 (0-0 at Hamburg).
- Branislav Ivanovic has scored three goals in the Europa League this term. No defender has netted more than him in the competition.
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