Juande Ramos is ready to lead Sevilla FC into the rarefied air of the UEFA Champions League after overcoming the challenge of AEK Athens FC in the third qualifying round. The Greek club trailed 2-0 from the first leg in Spain before the return match was postponed from last Tuesday following the death of Antonio Puerta. After Sevilla’s 4-1 victory tonight, Ramos’s opposite number Lorenzo Serra Ferrer conceded the better team had prevailed and tipped them for success.
Juande Ramos, Sevilla coach
AEK pressured us early on, looking for a fast goal, and that invited us to play fast and dangerous counterattacks. We had the chance to get the lead with [Aleksandr] Kerzhakov early on. After our goal, AEK neglected their defence a bit and we managed to score two more goals. In the second half, both teams played beautiful football which I am sure the fans enjoyed. Sevilla needed to make this step forward, after two seasons spent in the UEFA Cup and with excellent results. From now on, we will start focusing on our new adventure and we are optimistic that we can be successful in the group we find ourselves in. However, it’s our first time among the ‘big’ clubs and we come across some classic names of the UEFA Champions League, such as Arsenal [FC] and [FC] Steaua Bucureşti. There is no such thing as an easy game in this competition and we promise that we will fight. We want to thank AEK Athens for all their support on the issue of Antonio Puerta – they are a club of gentlemen. We also want to convey our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of the forest fires in Greece.
Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, AEK coach
In the first 20 minutes, we were looking our opponents in the eye. We deserved to get a goal, but we lacked composure in our finishing. I believe that, nowadays, if a team gets to have eight clear-cut chances to score against Sevilla, that means that they have played well. However, we need to correct our mistakes at the back in dead-ball situations. I know that our task was difficult right from the start. I am satisfied with my players’ attitude and their constant search for a goal. Especially the right flank, [Gustavo] Manduca and [Edson] Ramos, were excellent in our build-up play. Sevilla are a well-structured club, an experienced team and they’ve had a good draw in the group stage. I believe they will do very well.
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