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"Our plan worked," MFK Dinamo goalkeeper Aleksei Popov said after a 5-2 semi-final defeat of hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi set up a Sunday decider with Kairat Almaty.
Dinamo led 2-0 at the break and never had a lead of under two goals despite a huge effort from the home side, urged on by 7,200 fans. Faustino Pérez, aiming for a third personal tournament win as well as Dinamo's second, said "the important thing was to play this final tournament as if it was our first". It is Iberia Star's first, and they reflected on early missed chances.
Faustino Pérez, Dinamo coach
I think everybody is nervous at this stage. The most important thing was to play this final tournament as if it was our first. It's my sixth, and I think Dinamo have played seven, but the main thing is to play as if it was the first time.
Early on we tried not to be nervous and to not concede a goal, because they were urged forward by their supporters. We tried to impose our style of playing.
I want to thank Michel Platini for being here today. I had not noticed he was in the stands, but I want to thank him for his presence, because he is the top UEFA authority.
Aleksandr Fukin, Dinamo forward
I can't say that it was that easy. It went on to become a hard match despite the final score. The first minutes were tough, as psychology is a factor too, just like emotions. I believe, today Iberia were stronger than the team who we were studying before the game. Our opponents changed a bit, and we didn't have that much information on their current lineup. It can be said that we watched videos of a different team. Iberia looked the same way as prevoiusly, but they added a few players of a higher standard.
Aleksei Popov, Dinamo goalkeeper
I hope it's not the last one. Each final stage of such a tournament is like a first one. You always want to show yourselves in a best possible way. We fulfiled our plan for this match almost perfectly. It was clear that in the beginning the hosts would put us under pressure.
We needed to hold them and try to score. That's what actually happened. The hosts had their chances, but we managed to stop them and then opened the scoring. It's really good that we immediately scored a second one, so our plan worked.
Aleksandr Sarkisyan, Iberia coach
When the score was 0-0, we missed a great opportunity, while Dinamo calmly opened the scoring. When they had a three-goal advantage, we still had a chance to save this match. We only needed one more quick goal after Augusto scored. However, we let in another. When it went to 4-1, there was no point in playing cautiously. We gave our opponents too much space, and that's why the final result is like this.
Marcel Ribeiro, Iberia forward
We started really well, had dangerous attacks and put Dinamo under pressure. Yet we missed our chance, and then our game came down a level. Obviously, if we would have opened the scoring, the situation would be completely different. Dinamo are a really strong side. They always make it through to the last four, whilst for us it is a debut.
Fuste, Iberia defender
We had chances to score in the first half, but we didn't take them. Dinamo had two chances in the first half and they took both. I think that has been the main difference. It was harder in the second half. We have gone forward trying to reduce the deficit and they scored when we had a flying goalkeeper. That was painful.
Dinamo are used to playing in these kind of matches. They are, along with Barcelona, the best team in the world. Dinamo were great, but also Iberia. I hope the supporters enjoyed this great spectacle.
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