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Stephen Kenny left ruing fine margins after Dundalk lose to Zenit St Petersburg

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny admitted his side had been left deflated by a punishing Europa League defeat as Zenit St Petersburg snatched a late 2-1 victory.

Robbie Benson opened the scoring for the Irish champions and only the inside of a post denied the Lilywhites a second goal as Dane Massey's header narrowly failed to double their advantage.

Robert Mak equalised when the Slovakian winger reacted quickly to a poor clearance from Dundalk keeper Gabriel Sava and Brazilian midfielder Giuliano exchanged a one-two in the Dundalk box with Belgian international Axel Witsel before smashing in the winner with 13 mintes remaining.

Kenny was left to lament the fine margins which prevented his side adding to the four points gained in their opening two Group D fixtures.

"We were 1-0 up and we could have gone 2-0 up and we have lost the game," he said.

"That happens and Zenit are a very good team - there is no doubt they are a Champions League team really.

"We feel somewhat deflated to have lost the game but that is no disgrace, losing a narrow defeat to Zenit.

"It was a bad goal to concede from our point of view, the first goal, and Zenit took advantage and the second goal they got they worked it very well and it was a good goal from their point of view. So we got punished really."

Sava redeemed himself to a degree with a penalty save from Mauricio but Dundalk tired as the game drew to a close.

Kenny admitted fatigue was a factor, noting they had played six games since their last European clash against Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv compared to the Russians' two.

"We were in a position to win it and were disappointed not to do so," he added.

"Zenit passed the ball brilliantly at times, they have got great balance in their team and they have got some really fine players.

"I think the Irish public will have tuned in tonight really en masse and I think they will again admire the players and their skill levels and the efforts they have shown consistently over the campaign and tonight once again."

Zenit coach Mircea Lucescu conceded his opponents were well-organised but believed his side could have won more convincingly.

"Our players showed some good combinations and could have scored some more goals," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph