Zenit St Petersburg manager Andre Villas-Boas says that lack of match sharpness caused his side elimination from the UEFA Champions League courtesy a 1-3 aggregate defeat to Benfica.
The Russian league went on a two-month winter break and just resumed last week. They had hopes of becoming the first Russian side to reach the quarter finals of the competition as they trailed by just one goal from the first leg in Portugal.
However, it was the visitors that booked their place in the quarter-finals thanks to late goals as Nicolas Gaitan who turned in substitute Raul Jimenez’s shot before Anderson Talisca scored to make it 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate to progressed in 47 of their 55 UEFA competition ties
Having not played a competitive fixture for around eight weeks until the start of the month, Villas-Boas insisted that his players were not fully prepared physically for a game of such magnitude.
“After a two-month break it’s hard to regain your match sharpness. It’s a problem for all Russian teams,” he said.
“Unlike us, Benfica are in top condition and that helped them. A week later and we would be better prepared.”