Tino Costa had what might be termed a dream UEFA competition debut on Tuesday.
The newly signed Valencia CF midfielder scored one goal and created another in the convincing 4-0 Group C win at Bursaspor and was named Player Rater Top Player. Costa was as modest about his accolade as he was deserving of it.
"I am surprised at being man of the match," the 25-year-old former Montpellier Hérault SC player told UEFA.com, before recounting his 16th-minute opener. "I found space in front of goal and scored. A fantastic goal."
By contrast to Costa, César Sánchez has 13 years' experience of UEFA competition, including victory at this level with Real Madrid CF in 2002. The goalkeeper, 39, had a quiet night in Turkey, but that is just how he likes it with the visit of Manchester United FC next on the agenda. "Everything was perfect for us," he said. "We needed to have a good game in order to gain confidence."
Displaying more mixed emotions was Mehmet Topal, signed by Valencia this summer from Galatasaray AŞ and taking two hours of Spanish lessons a day, as he remained muted during the goal celebrations against the Turkish newcomers. But he was certainly happy with the result.
"UEFA Champions League games are very different, they are played in a different sort of atmosphere," the 24-year-old Turkey midfielder said. "The team that concentrates best on the pitch gets the result. We played very well and therefore claimed a great victory."
Whereas Topal went from Turkey to Spain in the summer, Milan Stepanov went the other way, joining Bursaspor after a year on loan at Málaga CF from FC Porto. The 27-year-old Serbia defender believes his side's heads did not drop after trailing 2-0 at the interval, but that Pablo Hernández's goal on 68 minutes destroyed their hopes. "We started the second half well, and missed several chances from two metres," Stepanov said, "but that is football. In my opinion, the third goal decided the game."
However, they are ready to make amends at Rangers FC in a fortnight. "In football, anything is possible," Stepanov added. "Today we lost 4-0, but tomorrow we can win 4-0. We have to forget the score as soon as possible, we have to talk about the bad things that happened in the match. We have to give 100% in order to earn Europe's respect."
Bursaspor brought on 20-year-old forward Sercan Yıldırım on the hour mark and within seconds he was responsible for the home side's best chance. "We wanted to start with a win, but we suffered a massive defeat because of our lack of experience," he said. "No matter, we have to concentrate on the Süper Lig now. We are going to play with passion at Rangers in our second game. At the very least we want to come third in the group."
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