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Aimar sets Benfica course for Dublin

Published: Friday 18 March 2011, 0.46CET
Pablo Aimar has set SL Benfica's sights on going "all the way" in the UEFA Europa League, saying of their nervy but crucial 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-Germain FC: "We did what we had to."
by Ian Holyman
from Parc des Princes
Published: Friday 18 March 2011, 0.46CET

Aimar sets Benfica course for Dublin

Pablo Aimar has set SL Benfica's sights on going "all the way" in the UEFA Europa League, saying of their nervy but crucial 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-Germain FC: "We did what we had to."

Pablo Aimar set his sights on winning the UEFA Europa League after helping SL Benfica reach the quarter-finals at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain FC.

Sometimes it's difficult to play well against a team that has good individuals and controls possession, but we did what we had to do.
Pablo Aimar

The Argentinian international came off the bench in his team's 2-1 first-leg win in Lisbon, but played from the start at the Parc des Princes. He sparked the counterattack that led to Nicolás Gaitán's 27th-minute opener, which eased Benfica further out of reach of PSG and edged them towards the last eight for the second successive campaign.

"We had four objectives at the start of the season; in the league now it's going to be difficult, but we've still got three," said Aimar, whose side trail FC Porto by 13 points at the top of the Portuguese Liga. "This is one of the ones that we can still win, and it would be great for us to go all the way in this competition."

The 31-year-old acknowledged that the Eagles had not produced a vintage display in the French capital. "We had to run a lot to defend our advantage, and built on it with a good goal," he said. "Sometimes it's difficult to play well against a team that has good individuals and controls possession, but we did what we had to do."

Gaitán's early strike flashed between PSG goalkeeper Apoula Édel and his near post to give Benfica a 3-1 aggregate cushion, and certainly helped settle any Benfica nerves. From a distance it looked like a fluke, but the 23-year-old Argentinian forward insisted that his first goal in UEFA club competition owed nothing to chance.

"Our goalkeeping coach told me that their goalkeeper takes a step forward when you're going to cross the ball," said Gaitán. "When I saw him do that I remembered and I chose to shoot rather than cross. The goal helped us go through. We conceded too, so I'm not sure it was all that important. We could just as easily have lost as won."

That Benfica emulated their 2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 16 defeat of PSG owed something to the profligacy of the hosts, who had opportunities to add to Mathieu Bodmer's superb 35th-minute volley. However, the Eagles' squad were keen to emphasise substance over style after earning their place in Friday's last-eight draw.

"We're in the quarter-finals; we're still among the best," said Spanish midfielder Javi García pragmatically. "It would be good to play a Portuguese team as that would show Portuguese football in a good light. Whoever we play, it'll be difficult. That side will have deserved their place as they have gone through many difficult stages, just like us."

Last updated: 26/09/14 6.30CET

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