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Criscito: Villas-Boas right for Zenit

Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito has told Mediaset he is “very sad” to see Luciano Spalletti leave but believes Andre Villas-Boas is an ideal replacement.

Yokhin: Spalletti’s birthday demise

Spalletti was dismissed earlier this month and has been replaced by former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach Villas-Boas, who officially takes charge on Thursday.

Speaking after the Russian club's elimination from the Champions League on Wednesday night, Italy international Criscito said: "I'm very sad about Spalletti's dismissal.

"I had a great relationship with him so when I heard he had been sacked, it saddened me. But Villas-Boas is a great coach and he seems to be the right man for a great club like Zenit St Petersburg."

Villas-Boas takes over a side with a battle on their hands to qualify for the Champions League again next season. Lokomotiv Moscow have pulled three points clear at the top of the Russian Premier League while Moscow clubs Spartak and Dinamo are both within touching distance, with CSKA just a few points further back.

A 4-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash effectively signalled the end for Spalletti, and in view of Wednesday night's 2-1 win in Germany, it was the defining result in the tie.

"We compromised our qualification in the first leg," Criscito said. "We got things wrong at home. Here, on the other hand, we showed that we can hold our own with anybody, but it was always going to be difficult to overturn the deficit."

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