Bradford's brave bid for European glory was washed away by a Russian wave of
second-half goals amid a torrential downpour at Valley Parade.
What started out as an adventure just over a month ago had become deadly
serious given the chance of playing in the UEFA Cup was within touching
But Bradford were no match for St Petersburg in the second leg of their
Intertoto Cup semi-final, as the visitors counter-attacked with clinical
efficiency to destroy the Bantams' dream.
It was exactly what Zenit deserved after a first leg in the Petrovski Stadium
from which there should have been no way back for City.
Bradford were run ragged a week ago by their opponents, currently in the
middle of the Russian League season, and could have been out of the tie then but
for some poor finishing.
Manager Chris Hutchings' side headed home from their mauling lucky to be in
the hunt, as they only trailed by a single goal.
But after a quiet first half in which neither goalkeeper was truly tested,
Zenit then made their pace, strength and fitness tell, and Bradford had no
Dan Petrescu had been paraded to the City fans before kick-off, and it
produced the loudest cheer of the night from the home faithful on a wet, woeful
The £1million capture from Chelsea on Saturday, Hutchings' fourth of a busy
summer in the transfer market, was given a rousing reception.
The Romanian international, however, was unable to make his Bantams debut as
his move north had come after the tournament's deadline.
But even if the 94-times capped right wing-back had been on the field, it is
unlikely he could have provided the spark for City to continue their remarkable
run in Europe.
This was Bradford's sixth game in a competition which began 32 days ago, but
having seen off Lithuanian minnows FK Atlantas and poor Dutch side RKC Waalwijk,
City finally met their match.
If Lee Mills had beaten Viachaslav Malafeev with a powerful downward header
just after the restart then it might have been a different story.
But in a second successive game in which City suffered from paucity in front
of goal, it proved their best opportunity on an otherwise miserable evening.
The breakthrough, and the vital away goal, came in the 68th minute when
Aleksandre Spivak was allowed to run unchallenged from the halfway line.
His powerful burst ended with a 20-yard drive which keeper Matt Clarke, who
had already twice saved superbly from half-time substitution Yevgeniy Tarasov,
could only parry.
The ball lobbed up perfectly into the path of Denis Ugarov, who nodded home
from close range to give the small band of travelling fans cause to celebrate.
It was the beginning of the end for Bradford, who then fell further behind
seven minutes later as the death knell for their Euro hopes sounded.
The goal came in controversial fashion as Ugarov slipped home a loose ball
underneath the diving Clarke, with a linesman first flagging and then deciding
to change his mind.
Despite City's fierce protests, the goal stood as Yugoslav referee Miroslav
Radoman pointed to the centre circle, and the Russians could start to look
forward to a final against Celta Vigo of Spain.
But they were not finished rubbing salt into Bradford's wounds as the final
dagger came three minutes from time.
On the breakaway, Ugarov exploited the gaping holes in City's defence, setting
up Tarasov to beat Clarke for a third time.
Despite the defeat, Richmond has already admitted he will enter his team for
next year's Intertoto Cup given the chance.
But first will come what is certain to be another season-long struggle to
avoid relegation from the Premiership.
Bradford: Clarke, Halle, Atherton, O'Brien, Nolan, Hopkin,
McCall, Whalley (Lawrence 83), Blake (Beagrie 73), Windass,Mills.
Subs Not Used: Sharpe, Walsh, Westwood, Rankin, Grant.
St Petersburg: Malafeev, Lepekhin (Vernidub 86), Zvetkov,
Gorovoy, Katulsky, Osipov, Ugarov, Kobelev (Archavin 28),
Nedorezov, Spivak, Popovich (Tarassov 45).
Subs Not Used: Berezovsky, Borodine, Igonin, Gorchkov.
Booked: Archavin, Nedorezov.
Goals: Ugarov 68, Gorovoy 75, Tarassov 85.
Ref: Miroslav Radoman (Yugoslavia).