Gent are on a steep learning curve in the Champions League but coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck was keen to take the positives from the 2-1 loss to Zenit.
Thomas Matton was on hand to cancel out Artem Dzyuba’s first-half header in a spirited performance, only for Oleg Shatov to be played in by the brilliant Hulk and chip home a winner.
Vanhaezebrouck claims his side’s inexperience may have cost them victory in Russia, telling reporters after the game: “We’ve had our moments and played a good game.
“But we are still learning. At times I thought we were even better than Zenit and we must become even smarter.
“The first goal comes after losing possession. That would not have happened in the second half.
“In the first half we lost too many balls, but we responded well after the break.”
The result leaves Gent’s hopes of progressing to the knockout phases hanging in the balance and Vanhaezebrouck knows things will not get any easier when they face Valencia in their next two games.
He added: “Valencia will be the most difficult assignment. They won narrowly in Lyon and had the tough qualifiers against Monaco.”
Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas had said before Tuesday’s encounter that is side would not be underestimating the Belgian champions and Vanhaezebrouck reckons the performance will serve as further evidence that his side are no pushovers in Group H.
“Zenit was impressed with our team and how we played, as they did not find many answers,” the 51-year old added.
“They were even scared they were going to lose, so they were ultimately very happy to have won.”