BSC Young Boys' winger Senad Lulić said he was a "proud" man after his side hit back from a goal down to beat Russian champions FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie.
Having been outfought and outthought in the opening half, Young Boys went in at half-time at the Stade de Suisse fortunate to be trailing by just a single goal after Nicolas Lombaerts's powerful header gave Zenit a deserved lead.
However, following stern words from boss Vladimir Petković during the break, Young Boys emerged a completely different animal and it was the left-sided Lulić's surging solo effort straight after the restart that put the Swiss team back on level terms.
After Zenit substitute Vladimir Bystrov had been sent off with 21 minutes remaining for his second bookable offence, YB striker Emmanuel Mayuka – who had been on the pitch only seven minutes after replacing Moreno Costanzo – finished expertly deep into added time to send the Berne faithful into raptures and his side to Russia with a precious advantage.
"In the first half we made too many mistakes," said Bosnian international Lulić. "We didn't close them down, we didn't tackle well enough while Zenit moved the ball around. We fell asleep for their goal and at half-time we could be glad it was only 1-0. But in the second half we made far fewer mistakes and
I'm very proud of my team for turning the result into a victory."
Young Boys goalkeeper and captain Marco Wölfli hailed coach Petković's decision to send on Mayuka as well as replace Emiliano Dudar with Mario Raimondi earlier in the second period.
The coach got a little loud at the break," said the 28-year-old. "He said we had to play with more courage. And we played much better in the second half. The substitutions worked very well and I'm really happy we were able to come away with a victory."
Young Boys' Scott Sutter put his team's poor start down to too much reverence shown for opponents who had won all six of their group games. "We weren't too happy with how we started," Sutter told UEFA.com. "I think we started with a bit too much respect for Zenit, and we were a bit scared really, making mistakes.
"We said at half-time we've got nothing to lose, we've got to go out and try something without being afraid of making mistakes. And we did, we started the second half really well and got the equaliser. Then their player getting sent off helped us a bit, but we were pushing for that second goal and it was great to get it right at the end."
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