Sergei Semak: "We're very grateful to our fans"

The Zenit manager on the win against Fenerbahce.
Sergei Semak: "We're very grateful to our fans"
It was a hard game and it is clear that now we are only gaining momentum. After a two-month pause it’s not easy to start again. Some of the players have joined us late and there are problems with injured players, which we could not say everything about. Some are tried, but they played the best they could and played much better in attack than in the first match. Not everything is happy, but in terms of results and effort, we can have no complaints. We understand that there is something to work on. Special thanks to the fans who did a terrific fire show for us before the match. It really charged up the guys. I am glad that we have such fans, no matter how and where we play, they support us. We are very grateful to them for this! 

What stopped you from playing like this in the first match?

First, the condition of the team before that game. Sardar had only trained for a few days and we could not put him straight into the starting lineup in Istanbul. As for the game, We chose Kranevitter in the centre of midfield. Today we played Ozdoev in that place, he has performed well in training and earned the right to start tonight. Otherwise, I would not say that the team has changed a lot. Of course, playing at home is always easier. We slowly got going and that last game was our first official match. Today we looked better. 

It seemed that despite the result today, Dzyuba was far from his best. How long will it take him to return to his autumn form?

Some are ready quickly and need only one or two games to get match fit. Some need more time. Dzyuba played well and I hope that in the next few games Artem will reach the level of which we are used to. Who play, we will decide in due course and in training. Matches are increasing and the right to start must be earned. 

How did you set up the team before the second half? Did you tell them to go all-in? 

There was no such order, because the cost of a mistake would be high. Unfortunately, we conceded, which complicated things. However, we knew that there would be chances. I think we deserved the win and our players were all professionals, they did not need to be told to change again. We let them know our thoughts and they fulfill them on the football pitch.

It seemed that Dziuba went dee and out wide to the left flank a lot. Was this your idea? 

We did that so that he pulled Skrtel out of the defence and sometimes Topal. This allowed Driussi to go into the centre and create chances. He perfectly played the assist for Azmoun and today he did well. 

What was the turning point in the game? 

The final point was the final whistle. We controlled the whole situation and we stopped being nervous. In general, the score was so dangerous and we could both have scored or conceded. The whole game passed without any turning points.

Why did you replace Azmoun with Zabolotny? It seemed you changed your mind when he scored the second goal. 

The change was forced. Sardar felt a problem, so we had to replace him for his own good. There was no hesitation, if he were fit, we would not have taken him off.  

Regarding Azmoun, he scored two and made one today, If Dzyuba is gaining form, then Serdar is already in good shape after the Asian Cup. How will you continue to maintain this level? 

Form can be maintained by training. How much and how is up to the coaching staff. We will look to maintain and improve his current form.