FC Barcelona president Joan Gaspart gave his backing to under-fire coach Carles Rexach after the Catalans booked their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.
'Thrilled for Rexach'
Barcelona finished top of Group B with a 1-0 win at Galatasaray SK on Matchday Twelve. Luis Enrique's 58th-minute goal made them the first Spanish side to beat the Turkish outfit since 1974. And afterwards Gaspart said: "I am thrilled for Carles Rexach. He has had to put up with a great deal. He feels for the fans, but that doesn't mean the criticism doesn't get to him."
However, Gaspart added that Barcelona, seventh in the Primera División, still had much to do before they could be in credit with their supporters. "Barça should be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League but they shouldn't be six points behind the league leaders in Spain," he said. "We haven't achieved anything yet. We just did what we had to tonight, for our fans especially."
'Well done Barça'
Meanwhile, Galatasaray coach Mircea Lucescu paid tribute to Barcelona, who ended his club's two-and-a-half year unbeaten home record in European competition. "It was a very hard game, a very intense one," the Romanian said. "They needed to win and are naturally delighted with the result. It is never easy to take a defeat but I want to congratulate Barcelona. We couldn't stop [Patrick] Kluivert in the second half, and it is a big achievement for them to go through from such a tight group."
However, Lucescu insisted his players had been affected by the violent scenes which marred their game at AS Roma on Matchday Eleven. "Until tonight we all had the chance to qualify for the quarter-finals," he said. "But having played very well in the first half, we made a mistake and lost our chance. I think my players were affected by the Roma incident, they couldn't forget it. When you are not right mentally, you make mistakes out on the pitch."
End of the road
Yet he congratulated his team on another solid Champions League campaign at the Ali Sami Yen. "After their goal, we tried a number of different solutions but none of them worked. However, I would like to congratulate my players because it is a victory in itself to reach this stage of the Champions League," he concluded.
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