A defiant Denis Boyarintsev insisted FC Spartak Moskva's prospects of a last-16 place were very much alive despite a 1-1 draw against Sporting Clube de Portugal on Wednesday.
After Spartak lost their first UEFA Champions League Group B game 4-0 at FC Bayern München, many thought victory against the Portuguese side at the Luzhniki Stadium essential if Vladimir Fedotov's team were to stand any chance of a top-two finish - but the midfielder, who opened the scoring after five minutes, was not about to abandon hope.
"I can say that it will not be easy for either [FC] Internazionale [Milano] or Bayern here in Moscow," he told uefa.com. "We will play to win both these games. And we will also be competitive when we play in Milan and Lisbon. We have a job to do and that is to get a top-two finish and no one has relieved us of that duty."
'It was our game'
The 28-year-old admitted, however, that it was "very annoying we did not win" after taking the lead: "It was our game. We dominated for 90 minutes and made just one serious mistake which led to a goal against us. Once again we squandered a number of scoring chances. This is our punishment. We gave the victory away with our own hands."
The No7 maintained it was a similar lapse in discipline which opened the floodgates against Bayern on Matchday 1 after Spartak had held the German giants until half-time. "A class team always punish you for your mistakes," he said. "Just like today - Sporting had one chance and they took it." What he would like to see is similar ruthlessness from Spartak - "we have to improve our finishing" - although he was aware that he himself had spurned two inviting opportunities against Sporting.
'We will get results'
The UEFA Champions League is a harsh school, but Boyarintsev remains confident lessons will be learned in the coming weeks. "Only a few of us have played in a competition of this magnitude before: Yegor Titov, Maxym Kalinichenko and some of the foreign boys," he said. "I now understand what the UEFA Champions League is about. You cannot relax for a second. But if we improve, given the level we achieved against Sporting, we will get results."
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