Luciano Spalleti: “Applause to the guys!”

Zenit’s head coach noted the quality of his team’s play in the first half of the match with Hajduk, and admitted that he didn’t want to replace Ivica Križanac, and shared the emotions he felt from the Poljud stands.

– Applaud my players, not me, – Spalletti began. – They played well right from the start, with the right mentality, and the right mood, and that’s how they got the result. It’s too bad that when Hajduk found its rhythm at the end of the match, and we had a lot of chances on the counterattack, we couldn’t score any more. And I would probably like to say a few words to the fans – they never stopped supporting their team right up to the end of the match.

– When the fans started singing, the stands shaking. Did the noise in the stands have an effect on the game?

– That’s no problem for me. It wasn’t hard for me. I think that it’s good and that it’s right when the fans support their team with their all their might, from the heart, throughout the whole match, from the first to the last minute. And that didn’t make any problem for our team. We played calmly, with authority, and we held the ball confidently.

– Which game did you like more, in Petersburg, or this one?

– I think that we played very well today in the first half as far as ball control goes, as far as the quality of play goes. That’s really great.

– Did Ivica Križanac leave the field because he’s from outside Split? To be applauded?

– No, I would have left him in for the whole match. He was playing really well. But in the first half that he strained a muscle. He asked to try playing in the second half, but he couldn’t do it. That’s why I replaced him. If not for that I would have left him in the match right until the end. There was no need to get applause for him. Everybody here knows him and respects him here as it is.

– We know that Zenit is the favorite from the group. But there’s a really long break in the Russian league until spring. Will that cause you any problems?

– We’re used to playing in those conditions when the schedule from our league doesn’t coincide with other leagues. It’s possible that that will cause us some trouble.

– Do you think Malafeev was at fault at all for the goals that Zenit allowed?

– No, absolutely not. He played his role in the match and saved us at the right moments. I’m satisfied with the way Malafeev played. Just like with all the other players.

– You’ve beaten Hajduk twice now already, and you beat the other two teams in the group once each. Can we hope that AEK and Anderlecht will be beaten again too?

– We can’t promise to win. We can promise that we’ll try to win. You can be sure about that.

– What do you think, what are Hajduk’s chances of taking second place?

– Why not? That’s possible.