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Spalletti bemoans Witsel dismissal

Zenit St Petersburg head coach Luciano Spalletti believes Axel Witsel’s red card denied his side all three points against Austria Vienna.

The Russian Premier League leaders were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Stadion Petrovskij in the UEFA Champions League Group G fixture on Tuesday.

Zenit completely dominated the first half with Hulk hitting the post, before having another effort saved well by Heinz Lindner.

But Zenit’s performance was stifled on the stroke of half-time when Witsel was harshly given his marching orders for a sliding challenge on Florian Mader.

And Spalletti feels the incident cost his side victory.

“I think we played a really good match, but the red card affected the result,” he said.

“Witsel was fast, he played a good game before his dismissal, like all the lads. We tried to attack and were not afraid of our opponents. Even with 10 men we created chances in the second half, but just couldn’t take them.”

The goalless stalemate leaves both sides still searching for their opening victory in this season’s Champions League group stage, but Spalletti is still confident of Zenit progressing to the round of 16.

“We made the task of qualifying from the group much harder,” he continued.

“Still, I believe we can play at the same level as the leaders of our group. It’s six matches, and we have to collect more points than two other opponents. I still think that we are equal to the task.”

Tue 1 October, 2013
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