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Sergei Semak: "The team gave their all and I thank them for the way they played"

The Zenit boss took questions from the media after the 1-0 defeat away to Chelsea. 
Sergei Semak: "The team gave their all and I thank them for the way they played"

It was a difficult game, in the first half we looked solid in defence, but in the second we allowed them to attack and there was danger. Chelsea had some very good chances and when they should have scored, they did. Unfortunately, Sardar and Artem did not take the chances that came to them and that’s a pity. I think Chelsea's deserved their win, but with a little bit of luck for us we could have taken a draw from here.

Is this a fair result?

I think yes. Chelsea had the advantage and had better attacks, more shots and better chances. Maybe not as clear as our chances, but whoever scores wins.

Why did you decide to play three central defenders?

Because we looked at how Chelsea play, they like to go wide and it was important we play well in defence. We were hoping for chances and we had them, but we didn't manage to score them. If we talk about our defending, we played more or less quite well.

What would you have done if Barrios could not play?

If he could not have played, then another player would have gone into his position. The system would not change, the player's positions would have changed. 

For the first time in a long time, Zenit played in front of a full stadium. How did this feel and did it add pressure?

Many of our players are used to playing in the Champions League and at such stadiums. Of course, playing with the fans is great and thank you to our fans and the Chelsea fans for the support and the atmosphere. Football is a celebration and the Champions League is a tournament which gives us all great joy. I would like to have got some points, but it was a good feeling being here today.

Did having Barrios as a central defender help Chistyakov have the match of his life?

Of course it helped him, in the Russian championship we quite often concede goals we shouldn't and not everything is as perfect as we would like it to be. This was Chistyakov‘s Champions League debut, so congratulations to him, as well as the rest of the guys who came on later. It is a memorable event to make your Champions League debut in a stadium like this. I am very happy for the guys. 

Has this match given the team confidence, something that may have been previously lacking for Zenit?

Each game is a separate story and we have to prepare and try to win each game. We will see what the results will be closer to the end of this competition. 

Azmoun didn’t have his best match, was that down to poor decision making from him? And if so, why did you not replace him sooner?

We were relying on his quickness and he had a good chance, he also made an excellent pass, which created a 100% chance to score. To sub him we needed a player who could fit into our game plan too and we don’t have that many options. After we conceded we looked to Sardar to score and he could have taken his chance, as he is a player who does score. There is no point in subbing him in such a situation.

Zenit didn’t have the best game with set pieces tonight, including Douglas's pass at the first corner. What was the reason for this?

As for that corner, this was an error with the pass being misplaced. The final free kick should have been taken earlier and certainly not messed up. This may have been down to fatigue, especially after Barrios’ long flight, so we got a wrong decision. 

These types of defeats in Russia can be considered heroic. Is this appropriate in this situation for you?

A defeat is a defeat regardless. As for the game itself, we had a chance to take points from here. We know the level Chelsea are at, they are a different class of team, but the lads gave their all and I thank them for the way they played, their dedication and desire. They did all they could at the time.