Zenit sacks Italian coach - reports
11 March 2014, 11:36
Moscow - Top Russian Premier League side Zenit St Peterburg, owned by state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, have sacked their Italian manager Luciano Spalletti, reports said Tuesday.
Russian media, including state owned R-Sport and First Channel, as well as the leading sports daily Sport Express, said the decision had been taken Monday at a meeting of Zenit's executive board.
There was no official confirmation but the reports said that prominent former Russian footballer Sergei Semak had been named interim manager.
Sport Express said Semak would be presented as the new manager later Tuesday.
Spalletti, 55, took charge of the hugely ambitious side after coming from Roma in December 2009 and took them to two Russian league titles.
But Zenit's owners Gazprom were eager for far more than domestic success and in 2012 the club purchased Brazilian star Hulk and Belgium's Axel Witsel, in the biggest transfer buys in Russian football history.
However Zenit found European success hard to come by. The final straw for Gazprom appears to have been a 2-4 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarter finals first leg that may end this season's campaign for the club.
A humiliating 0-0 home draw at the weekend to lowly Tom of Tomsk of Siberia probably sealed Spalletti's fate.