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After Sevilla loss, Zenit refocus on domestic duties

17 April 2015, 14:04

Moscow - Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg hope to bounce back from their 2-1 Europa League defeat at Sevilla when they travel to Kuban Krasnodar on Sunday.

Zenit top the Premiership table with 55 points from 23 matches, eight ahead of FC Krasnodar in second. Reigning champions CSKA Moscow sit third with 43 points.

The Saint Petersburg club, who were also held to a 1-1 draw in their previous league outing with Rubin, blamed lack of freshness in the Europa League quarter-final first leg against Sevilla on Thursday.

"In the first half we had the initiative, were moving well and were looking for chances to score," Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.

"But from the 60th minute we started to have some problems - we looked worn out. We were forced to make some subs and this influenced the outcome of the match."

Also read: Barca’s Alba fit for La Liga clash at Sevilla

The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham manager added that he was hoping that the return of Zenit's four key players: defenders Domenico Criscito and Igor Smolnikov, skipper Miguel Danny and Brazilian star striker Hulk, who missed the clash with Sevilla through suspensions, will boost his team's performance against Kuban.

Kuban are out to end a three match winless run in the league.

"In our previous matches and especially in the derby with FC Krasnodar we made too many mistakes in defence," Kuban coach Leonid Kuchuk said.

"We did a lot of home work to learn from those mistakes and to avoid repeating our blunders. The match with Zenit will show whether we did it right."

Also on Sunday, CSKA and FC Krasnodar clash in a match that may decide the league's runners-up and a Champions League place next season.

The Red Army side, who have suffered defeats in their last three Premiership matches, are set to stop their streak of bad luck.

"We don't have time to grieve for these losses," CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said. "There are only seven matches remaining."

"The gap to Zenit is too big but in the race for the second Champions League place every single point is precious. We have no other choice but to win on Sunday."

FC Krasnodar, unbeaten in last 12 Premierships matches, are aiming to secure their position.

"Everybody in our club wants to win the right to play in the Champions League," Krasnodar head coach Oleg Kononov said. "We have a dream and we're all doing everything depending on us to fulfil it."

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