The managerial debut for Luciano Spalletti at Zenit Saint Petersburg saw his side modestly defeat Krylia Sovetov 1-0 at Metallurg Stadion in the opening week of the Rosgosstrakh Championship of Russia.
The former Roma manger utilized, as expected, a 4-2-3-1 formation with Konstantin Zyryanov and Vladimir Bystrov book-ending Danny on the wings, with Aleksandr Kerzhakov as the lone striker. Igor Denisov and Roman Shirokov were in defensive holding positions, with new addition Michael Lumb, Nicolas Lombaerts, Ivica Križanac and Tomáš Hubočan joining the back four in front of 'keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev. Despite the expectations that saw Zenit a heavy favourite, Samaran manager Yuri Gazzaev deployed a brilliant tactical plan that limited the visitors attacking efforts to a mere trickle.
Chances were rare in the opening half with the Samarans showing more initiative after the break. Four minutes prior to the hour Luciano Spalletti called upon for PSV striker Danko Lazović for Konstantin Zyryanov but Zenit were unable to unlock Krylia's compact defence. However, at the sixty-seventh minute Zenit lodged the winner when Danny was played through on a quick counter. Surging down the centre of the pitch, with Aleksandr Kerzhakov on his left, the Portuguese international moved into the right side of the box before driving the ball into the net past Krylia ‘keeper David Yurchenko from fifteen metres. Up by one, Zenit was comfortable protecting the lead as the Samaran's were showing little ability to generate the needed touch for the equalizer. Yuri Gazzaev, called upon Aleksandr Khramov for his debut at the eighty-eighth minute but after four minutes of added-time the whistle sounded and Zenit Saint-Petersburg claimed a modest the 1-0 victory.
Prepared by J. Davies
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