Zenit spirit enthuses Spalletti
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Luciano Spalletti hailed the courage of FC Zenit St Petersburg after they recovered from a goal down to beat SL Benfica 3-2, saying his players "won this with their hearts".
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Luciano Spalletti, Zenit coach
That was a nervous match, a very emotional and passionate game. My players won this with their hearts, although they showed a lot of quality as well. We underestimate our level of performance sometimes and that helps our opponents. Sergei Semak scored a fantastic goal but I would like to highlight Igor Denisov's initial pass which launched the attack.
However, we still have the second leg ahead of us [on 6 March]. It's almost impossible to secure an aggregate win and a place in the next round after the first leg of a UEFA Champions League tie. We faced a similar situation before our away game against FC Porto [0-0 on matchday six] and we went there and got the result. However, we could have avoided the two goals we conceded tonight.
Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach
They adapted to the conditions better than us, because they are used to playing here. Benfica were worthy [of a draw] and it was a pity we conceded the third goal. The tie is open and at our stadium, with our supporters, we can go through. We have every chance of correcting this result at home.
I did not play [Pablo] Aimar from the beginning because he was on a yellow card. He would have been more important to us at home than here. Now we must think about solutions [after Aimar's booking that means he is suspended for the second leg], but we have the tools to play well at home. Rodrigo suffered a heavy knock and we're still not sure about the injury. His substitution affected our strategy, but that's football.