Zenit Saint Petersburg won the match 2–1, Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring just before half-time, before Danny doubled the Russians' lead just before the hour mark. Nemanja Vidić reduced the deficit to one goal in the 73rd minute, but it was not enough to wrest the trophy from Zenit's grasp, as they became the first Russian team to win the competition. The sending-off of Paul Scholes in the 90th minute resulted in him missing Manchester United's opening game in their defence of the UEFA Champions League, a home tie against Villarreal.
This was Zenit Saint Petersburg's first appearance in the competition, while Manchester United had appeared twice before, in 1991 and 1999; their first appearance finished in a 1–0 win over Red Star Belgrade, while their most recent appearance was a 1–0 loss to Lazio, the last winners of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup to compete in the UEFA Super Cup.
The opening exchanges of the match were dominated by Zenit, counter-attacking down their right flank, exploiting the attack-minded Patrice Evra. Both Konstantin Zyryanov and Aleksandr Anyukov created opportunities on the right wing, only for Pavel Pogrebnyak to miss the target from a promising position on both occasions. Danny also managed to break into the box from the right-hand by-line, only for Rio Ferdinand to block his low cross.
Up at the other end, United had a couple of half-chances of their own as, first, Carlos Tévez hit a weak shot into Vyacheslav Malafeev's arms before sprinting after a ball played up the right wing, just managing to keep it in, before breaking through one tackle into the box and squaring the ball to Wayne Rooney. However, the England striker's first touch was poor, and the delay meant that the chance had passed.
Zenit's pressure began to mount and, with half-time approaching, they won a corner on the left-hand side. Alejandro Domínguez took an in-swinging corner. Igor Denisov flicked the ball on at the near post, and it floated over Edwin van der Sar for Pavel Pogrebnyak to head in on the line. Paul Scholes picked up a yellow card shortly after the game had restarted, but the half-time whistle soon followed and Zenit went in on top.
Andrei Arshavin, a target for Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur over the summer, came on as a substitute for Alejandro Domínguez at half-time, but it was Danny who made the breakthrough for the second goal on the hour mark. Picking up the ball just inside the United half, the United defence continued to back off from him and he broke into the box, firing a shot past Edwin van der Sar, who dived the wrong way.
A Carlos Tévez effort came close to pulling a goal back for Manchester United, and sparked a period of sustained pressure for the European champions. As United began to get into full swing, the Zenit side struggled to cope and, after Tévez had been found in space in the box by Wayne Rooney, he pulled the ball back to Nemanja Vidić who stabbed the ball into the net from six yards out. O'Shea, Park and Rooney all went close as the clock ran down, but it was Danny who went closest to getting another goal for Zenit, shooting over the bar with just Van der Sar to beat after picking up a through ball from Andrei Arshavin.
With only a minute of normal time remaining, Wes Brown sent over a cross from the right wing. Paul Scholes rose to meet the ball, but, instead of heading the ball, he stuck out his right arm and punched the ball goalwards. The referee had no hesitation in showing Scholes a second yellow card and sending him off. The red card meant that Scholes would miss Manchester United's first UEFA Champions League game of the 2008–09 season, at home to Villarreal.