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Luciano Spalletti: “My players are great!”

Zenit`s head coach noted the quality of his team`s play in today`s match, and commented on the absence of Semak and the early substitution of Alexander Kerzhakov - the author of a hat-trick - at the press conference after today`s match.

- I think everything was pretty obvious in this match, – Luciano Spalletti began the press conference. – Zenit played very well, and showed great spirit. And they deserved to win.

- Was the preparation for this match different in any way? Was there a different mood in this match?

- I think that first of all we were really successful at playing our game today. And secondly, my players are great! In the previous games, maybe this is what we lacked. We made mistakes in passing today though. There`s one thing that I would like to point out, to underline. After the mistake, when we allowed a goal, our players didn`t put their heads down. They came out for the second half with their heads raised. That`s really important. Because when you give up a goal right before halftime, that can break the whole team. But our players took it well. We played an excellent match today. But in the future we have to keep our heads up too. I heard part of my colleague`s interview. He said that his players played open football, and that`s why they lost. But I think they would have lost anyway. But I think he gave the team the right mentality, the mentality to keep playing under any conditions. And in the future that will serve them well. Because it`s really important to play your own game. They won their last match in the Premier League against a strong team. And their mentality is what helped them to win.

- Did you decide ahead of time who would take the penalty kick, or did the players decide amongst themselves?
- We have a lot of players who can take penalty kicks. It`s good when the players decide amongst themselves who will take it. If I saw that they were arguing too much about it, or that they`re not discussing it at all, then I would start taking decisions myself.

- What happened with Kerzhakov? He was holding his side.
- He felt a muscle spasm, but he`s really smart, he told the team about it immediately, and we replaced him. We have a good team which can afford to lose a player. But Alexander is playing really well now, and I wouldn`t like to lose him.

- Tell us about the play of your substitutes today.
- Alessandro did very well, he scored a great goal, and he would have had a second if Fayzulin didn`t get in his way. When Fayzulin came on the pitch, by the way, I asked him to play like a defender, to win the ball. He did a lot for the team today. Meira also came on well in a new position for him. He played hard, but he fulfilled his role. I`m happy with my substitutes.

- Some people think that when the match result is so obvious, players come onto the field so that the club can sell them later on for a higher price. Is that possible?
- That opinion is incorrect. Now we`re coming to that part of the season when players have lots of cards. So it`s important that we have a lot of players. It`s important for the guys on the bench to know that they`re participating in the process. I only put players on the field because I want to win the match, not because I want to sell them.

- Why didn`t Semak play?
- He had a small problem. It turned out that he hasn`t quite recovered from an inury yet. He could have helped the team, but then he would have felt even worse. And we didn`t want that.

- Mr. Spalletti, tell us about your view on the yellow cards that Bystrov and Lombaerts got today: it looked like they didn`t deserve them.
- From my point of view they didn`t deserve the cards at all! But there are various points of view. And I would say that the referee today was good, and that those yellow cards didn`t change the quality of his work at all.