Benfica coach Lage takes blame for Zenit defeat
Benfica head coach Bruno Lage accepted responsibility for his side's 3-1 defeat at Zenit, with the Portuguese champions still without a point in the Champions League this season.
After losing 2-1 at home to RB Leipzig in their Group G opener, Benfica committed a series of defensive errors in a one-sided game at Saint Petersburg Stadium, where Raul de Tomas' consolation strike came far too late to give his side any hope.
Artem Dzyuba opened the scoring after 21 minutes after Benfica's Lubomir Fejsa was caught in possession on the edge of the box, and matters were made worse for the visitors when Ruben Dias scored an own goal 20 minutes from time.
Sardar Azmoun was allowed a clear run at goal for Zenit's third, and Lage held his hands up about his side's defensive failings.
"I was the one who picked the team, I was the one who chose the 11," Lage told reporters.
"I set the strategy, and as such here I am to take on everything that happened on the pitch.
"It is a fact that the way we suffered the first goal, then the own goal and then the way we concede the third, has shattered all our aspirations."
Assessing his side's plight with four group matches remaining, Lage said: "It is the result of what has happened to us, some injuries that have affected us.
"We were looking at a different campaign. It's two games, two losses."
Opposite number Sergei Semak praised the way the Zenit players implemented an aggressive strategy in a stadium that was playing host to Champions League football for the first time.
Zenit have been in the Europa League since Saint Petersburg Stadium opened in 2016 until this season, and Semak was delighted to claim victory in their first Group G home game.
"It's the first UEFA Champions League match at our great stadium and I'm happy we celebrated it with a superb win," he told reporters.
"We planned to play aggressively against this Benfica side knowing their style and it worked. Our fans deserved to see such a dedicated performance from our team.
"Of course, not everything was perfect from our side but we still managed to do what was needed."