Coach Christoph Daum praised Club Brugge KV's "fantastic mentality" after a remarkable comeback at NK Maribor put them on the verge of a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
Nabil Dirar's double, a goal from substitute Joseph Akpala and Ryan Donk's 90th-minute winner completed the turnaround after the Belgian side were three down with 16 minutes remaining. The win leaves them at the head of Group H and needing a point in their final game, against SC Braga at the Jan Breydelstadion, to confirm top spot.
Daum, who replaced Adrie Koster in the dugout on 9 November, has experienced much in his 25-year managerial career but admitted the victory in Slovenia was one of the most satisfying. "I never doubted my players," said the 58-year-old German. "I have to congratulate them. They showed a fantastic mentality. How the team kept believing is really outstanding. To turn round a three-goal deficit and win gives much more satisfaction than just winning 3-0. It was a night full of mixed emotions. Of course we made some mistakes, and we also had a bit of bad luck with some goals we conceded."
The coach had words of praise for match-winner Donk, who had earlier directed into his own net to make it 2-0 to the Slovene First League leaders. "He was not very lucky, but every player makes mistakes and he really changed things around and even took care of the winning goal. He can learn from this and become stronger for it."
Daum has now won his first three matches in charge, recording a pair of 1-0 victories in Belgium's top flight, supplemented by this memorable UEFA Europa League success. "We had to show different qualities than in the previous games," he said. "This match is one to learn from. We can use it to try to become more stable defensively."
Captain Carl Hoefkens said the result could only make Club Brugge stronger. "In the first half we were not playing well and we also had some bad luck," the centre-back said. "Fortunately we turned our irritation into determination and in the end we prevailed. The fourth goal came from a set piece that we often practise and we executed it perfectly. The most important thing for me is that we never gave up, not even at 3-0 down. With this mentality we can achieve great things."
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