Houssine Kharja may have experienced a frustrating UEFA Champions League debut, but the FC Internazionale Milano midfielder remains convinced the holders can recover from their 1-0 loss to FC Bayern München and clinch a quarter-final berth in Germany.
The Moroccan international came on after 73 minutes and was soon at the heart of the action, finding space on the right and unleashing a shot towards the far post which Thomas Kraft did well to divert low down. "I could have scored and it's a shame I didn't, because it would have been a great way to make my Champions league debut," Karja told UEFA.com. "It wasn't to be and I hope I can score in the second leg.
"My debut all happened in a bit of a flurry because [Andrea] Ranocchia got injured and suddenly I had to suddenly replace him," he continued. "But you don't really have time to think about the individual significance at the time because you're just worried about helping out the team – and given the result I'm very disappointed with how it went."
Both sides created several opportunities during a highly entertaining game, especially Bayern, who hit the woodwork twice before Mario Gomez pounced to notch their last-minute winner. "We knew they would attack us because they're a side that plays very well in midfield and attack," the 28-year-old explained. "They have great players and we knew it would be an open game because they like to play with the ball on the ground, starting from the goalkeeper."
Kharja, who joined in January from Genoa CFC, believes the European champions can nonetheless still book a place in the last-eight by prevailing at the Fußball Arena München on 15 March. "On the whole, we played well tonight; we pushed on creating lots of chances, but it was just a shame that we didn't score and they did right at the end.
For the second leg we'll go there, send out our strikers and if we score we'll give them a few problems."
That opinion was shared by Nerazzurri captain Javier Zanetti. "We will go to Munich to win the game," he said. "
It's a pity we conceded a late goal, but we needed to score over there anyway, even if the result was 0-0 tonight. I think the draw would have been a fair result because both sides created several opportunities to score, so I think we can still be optimistic ahead of the return leg. I think it'll be another open game."
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