Zenit St. Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti has said his striking duo of Hulk and Alexander Kerzhakov were not at their best in Zenit’s football draw with Malaga and were intimidated by having to lead a fight-back from two goals down.
Zenit and Malaga drew 2-2 Wednesday, a result which sent the Spaniard through into the Champions League knockout stages and leaves Zenit’s hopes hanging by a thread.
“Without doubt they can function better,” Spalletti said of Hulk and Kerzhakov.
Going 0-2 down within the first 10 minutes broke their spirit, he suggested.
“The strong influence on their game was what happened in the first half. We ended up having to practically start the game at 0-2 down,” Spalletti said.
“In those moments, a lot of players start to play selfishly but you need to play as simply as possible and as quickly possible.”
The Italian coach added there had been positive signs despite the problems and suggested he saw a future for Hulk and Kerzhakov as a strike partnership.