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The Russian club’s new boss has praised his team after they earned a hard-fought three points against Samara on Monday

Zenit Saint Petersburg head coach Andre Villas-Boas has praised his players after their battling performance gave him a winning start to life at the club.

The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham boss recently took over at the Petrovsky Stadium and admitted he was delighted by his team’s display in their 2-1 win over Krylia Sovetov Samara, particularly given their efforts in Europe last week.

"It was a really hard match," Villas-Boas is quoted as saying on Fifa’s website. "We dominated the play in the early stages and deserved to score more goals in the first half.

"But after the 60th minute the team started to tire. The reasons were simple: the hard match at Dortmund [in the Champions League], the intense practices after returning to Saint Petersburg, and of course the change of the head coach also influenced the players."

"I'm really pleased with my players' performance. They acted well despite all the difficulties. I hope we will continue winning together."

Brazil forward Hulk scored twice in the game and goalkeeper Yury Lodygin saved two penalties as the Russian outfit, who are just three points behind league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow, continued their title challenge.

"Luckily we have Yury," said Villas-Boas. "He really excited me with his performance and of course his penalty saves.

"Our fans support helped us a lot especially in the second half when Zenit experienced difficulties. My first win here is the result of their passionate support as well."

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