Sergey Semak: “It was important to win in Moscow”

The Zenit boss on the win over Spartak.
Sergey Semak: “It was important to win in Moscow”
It was a tough game and maybe not great for the fans in attendance. We tried to play with discipline in defence as we knew that Spartak quick attacks were their main weapon as well as the signings they've made this transfer window. We tried to be solid and do whatever we possibly could, we did give away a number of set pieces, and there quite a lot. In the second half, we played deeper and allowed them to control the ball, there were a number of chances too. Anyway congratulations to the guys and to the supporters. We will go on now to prepare for the next match. 

What is the reason for the number of free kicks you mentioned? Problems in areas of the pitch?

Yes, in the middle, we had some problems there, so put on Alexander Erokhin to stop their penetrating passes, both our defence and midfield had work to do. We tried to play it short, but they did not give us time. We also had VAR, and with this, things seemed calmer than in those matches without it. 

Who can you single as having played well in your team?

I can name them all, although the match was not easy. We are missing important players like Driussi and Malcolm and Sardar did not trained all week. Shatov, Kuzyaev, Erokhin are only just coming back from injury. The team is changing, I've had to use Zhirkov further forward and he played very well. But the team is finding form and so the quality we want will come. Today it was important to win and we did. 

VAR helped Zenit today, without it, the Spartak goal might have stood.

The players saw it and it was an obvious hand ball, so everyone immediately knew the goal would be canceled. Only the ref did not see it, but it is good that there is a VAR. It is not in favour of anyone and it helps referees. The more there will be incidents like this, matches with VAR will mean fewer issues with the refereeing. 

What can you say about Zhirkov's goal. He doesn't score often, but does against Spartak. Was it an accident or did he mean it? 

Nothing happens accidentally and all teams preparing for every team, trying to exploit other teams weaknesses. So Zhirkov being there was not accidental and the shot and goal were beautiful. He may not score ten out of ten, but he scores good goals.

Ahead of the international break, how do you rate your start of the season?

From the point of view of the quality of our games and if we look at our statistics, then things are quite good. We've had some good matches, but yes our finishing has not been great. If we do not score, then we cannot win. Some times we have been unlucky, some times we've been on the end of some poor refereeing that stopped us taking the 3 points. We've played Krasnodar and didn't win, although we played better, with Akhmat and Ufa, we didn't win and couldn't score, although we could have. So with regard to quantity and quality, everything is fine. If we talk about points, then we've dropped some, but somewhere we will find more. The season is long.