Although they lie second in the Russian Premier League, Zenit St Petersburg have decided to change their coach.

Luciano Spalletti has been sacked as head coach of Zenit St Petersburg with the club lying second in the Russian Premier League.

The dismissal of the Italian comes only a week before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Borussia Dortmund.

The 55-year-old Italian was fired after the 0-0 draw at home to Tom Tomsk on Sunday. That result allowed Lokomotiv Moscow to replace them at the top of the table and although there are still 10 games of the season remaining, the club has opted to dispense with his services.

Sergei Semak, a former Russia captain, has been placed in temporary charge.

A statement on www.fc-zenit.ru read: “Zenit’s club management has decided to dismiss Luciano Spalletti from his duties as head coach of the Blue-White-Sky Blues.

“Sergey Semak has been appointed Zenit’s acting head coach.”

“We would like to thank Luciano Spalletti for everything that he has done to develop football and we will always be glad to see him in St Petersburg. Grazie, Mister.”

The former Roma and Udinese manager took charge in December 2009 and led Zenit to two Premier League titles and one Russian Cup. He was named Russia’s coach of the season in the 2010 and 2012 seasons.

Zenit’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time are hanging by a thread following their 4-2 first-leg home loss to Dortmund. The return in Germany takes place on 19 March.

Semak spent a decade playing with CSKA Moscow before joining Paris St Germain in 2004. He later had spells with FC Moscow and Rubin Kazan before finishing his career with Zenit in May and then joining Spalletti’s coaching staff.