MOSCOW, July 30 (R-Sport) - Zenit St. Petersburg football club took a stride toward the Champions League group stage on Tuesday with a 1-0 away win against Danish side Nordsjaelland in the first leg of their third-qualifying-round tie.
The visitors scored with Alexander Kerzhakov's first goal since November six minutes into the second half.
The Russian slotted under the onrushing Martin Hansen to give his side a narrow lead going into next week's second leg in Russia.
The winners over two legs will enter a playoff to advance to the competition's money-spinning group stage.
Luciano Spalletti's side are looking to get back to winning ways domestically and in Europe this season after losing their Russian Premier League crown to CSKA Moscow and crashing out of last year's Champions League in the group stage.
Zenit spurned two early chances on the trot when Luis Neto volleyed straight into Martin Hansen's grateful hands before the ex-Liverpool goalkeeper smothered Hulk's effort to skip around him in a one-on-one.
Hansen, 23, then fell at the feet of Andrei Arshavin at full stretch, denying the former Arsenal man in an identical manner. He would make a near-identical save from Arshavin later on.
The hosts engineered an excellent opportunity on 29 minutes, with Stryger Larsen blazing wide after Anatoliy Tymoshchuk had failed to clear the ball.
Viktor Fayzulin drove over unchallenged from the edge of the box before Michael Jakobsen sent a screaming header narrowly over too for Nordsjaelland.
Arshavin sent a gilt-edged chance wide as the half drew to a close.
For the second half Luciano Spalletti threw on a recognized striker in Kerzhakov and it immediately paid off, with the forward netting his first goal in any competition in eight months.
But the visitors had goalkeeper Ilya Lodygin to thank for thwarting Mario Ticinovic as the home side immediately responded.
Nordsjaelland, who lost 5-1 to Zenit in a friendly back in 2008, applied late pressure but couldn't make it count, and were lucky not to go 2-0 down at the death as Miguel Danny blazed over.