Zenit v Benfica: Away side to have big progression chance

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Zenit take on Portuguese opposition for the second match running in the Champions League, and after disposing of Porto in the group stage, the Russian outfit are 7/5 to beat Benfica in the first leg of their last-16 clash.

Their visitors are a very dangerous proposition however, having finished at the pinnacle of a strong group which featured English giants Manchester United, and they can be backed to claim an away win at 2/1 here.

Some interest may be attributed to the draw at 11/5, as the unbeaten Portuguese side claimed three stalemates on their way to topping Group C, the most notable of which was a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Indeed, Zenit did play out a draw in their last match with Portuguese opposition, clinching a 0-0 stalemate away to Porto in their final group match, and you can back the same scoreline here at 8/1.

However, the visitors’ fluidity throughout midfield and potent attacking threats in the form of Nicolas Gaitan, Pablo Aimar and Oscar Cardozo seem to indicate that they will get at least the away goal they crave in Russia.

It is a big 16/1 for the sides to cancel each other out with a 2-2 scoreline, while you can get 10/1 odds on a 2-1 away win if you fancy the travellers to sneak it.

The 4/1 for a draw at half-time and full-time could appeal to punters, as could the big 14/1 for Benfica to be leading at the break but drawing the game by the final whistle.

In terms of first goalscorer betting, Aleksandr Kerzhakov leads the market as 5/1 favourite, but this should be approached with caution as the striker has failed to find the net in the Champions League so far this season.

Therefore, it could pay dividends to back Benfica’s powerful forward Cardozo at 6/1 to hit his fourth European goal of the campaign with the opener.

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