Zenit eye Champions League glory after edging Auxerre

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Zenit St Petersburg are one of a clutch of clubs with one foot in the Champions League group stage following their 1-0 first leg win against Auxerre.

Alexander Kerzhakov’s third minute strike proved to be the winner at the Petrovsky Stadium, but the home side should have won by a far bigger margin.

Roman Shirokov missed two particularly gilt-edged chances for the 80/1 Champions League contenders, who gave a European debut to new signing Bruno Alves.

Along with Serbian centre-back Aleksandar Lukovic, Portuguese international defender Alves is one of the new faces to join Zenit after a summer of aggressive spending.

UEFA Cup winners in 2008, Zenit have experience of winning a major European trophy, and their new recruits make them an enticing bet to claim more continental glory this season.

Elsewhere in Europe, a tense encounter in Ukraine saw Andriy Shevchecnko’s Dynamo Kiev draw 1-1 with Ajax.

Jan Vertonghen gave the Dutch side the lead – and a potentially crucial away goal – after an hour, but this advantage was erased almost instantly by a goal from Dynamo’s Oleg Gusev.

Ajax are 100/1 to win their first Champions League title since 1995, and in this finely balanced tie, it could be their away goal which gives them the edge against Dynamo.

A Scandinavian derby saw Norwegian side Rosenberg claim a first leg lead against Denmark’s Copenhagen after a 2-1 win in Trondheim.

Goals from former Tottenham striker Steffen Iversen and Markus Henriksen gave Rosenberg a 2-0 lead but a late header from Jesper Gronkjaer has given Copenhagen hope ahead of the return leg.

Another of Tuesday night’s Champions League play-offs saw Slovakian outfit MSK Zilina travel to neighbouring Czech Republic to claim an excellent 2-0 win against Sparta Prague.

Who do you think will win the Champions League? Last year’s runners-up Bayern Munich are 14/1 contenders. See the full UEFA Champions League market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.