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Europa League: Zenit St. Petersburg's fiery welcome

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Modern football fans are often accused of not showing passion for their teams. Clearly, no one told FC Zenit fans, who gave their team a fiery welcome.

Posted: Feb 24, 2019 2:00 AM
Updated: Feb 24, 2019 2:00 AM

Spanish club Villarreal can expect a fiery welcome when they visit Zenit St. Petersburg in the next round of the Europa League -- if the Russian side's last fixture is anything to go by.

Zenit fans gave their team an impressively choreographed pyrotechnic guard of honor ahead of its must-win round-of-32 tie Thursday.

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Scores of supporters lined the entire road to the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg and let off flares as the team bus approached the stadium.

The spectacularly warm welcome seemed to do the trick.

Zenit overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first-leg to beat Fenerbahce 3-1 on the night and progress to the next round.

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Villarreal discovered its fiery fate as the draw for the round of 16 fixtures was announced Friday.

Five-time Europa League champion Sevilla will play Czech outfit Slavia Prague, while Chelsea face a tough visit to Ukraine in their tie against Dynamo Kiev.

Unai Emery's Arsenal -- which overturned a first-leg deficit in the last round against BATE Borisov -- have a favorable tie against Ligue 1 Rennes. The Spaniard is a Europa League expert, winning three consecutive titles with his former side Sevilla.

The Gunners will be without striker Alexandre Lacazette, who has been banned for three matches following a direct red card in the round-of-32 first leg against BATE Borisov.

The Frenchman has already served one match but will miss both legs of the tie against Rennes.

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Elsewhere, Italian side Napoli will face RB Salzburg and three-time champion Inter Milan take on Frankfurt.

The next round of fixtures will be played on March 7 with the return legs scheduled for the week after.

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