"A magnificent feeling" was how striker Seydou Doumbia described the moment when he realised PFC CSKA Moskva's dramatic 2-1 win at FC Internazionale Milano had secured the Army Men's passage into the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
To qualify, Leonid Slutski's charges needed to beat the 2010 European champions on their own patch, while hoping the other Group B match between LOSC Lille Métropole and Trabzonspor AŞ ended in a draw. Both circumstances coincided, happily for Doumbia, who opened the scoring at San Siro with a wonderfully worked goal.
"I'm really very happy because I've been waiting for this moment – we fought tooth and nail until the very end and finally managed to qualify," Doumbia told UEFA.com. "At half-time I took a sneaky peak at my phone to see what was happening in Lille and I saw that the other sides hadn't scored yet; it was still 0-0. So I said to myself: 'Right you've got to give it everything you've got for the next 45 minutes because you never know.' And the next thing you know ..."
Within five minutes of the restart, Doumbia was dancing with Vágner Love after combining with Alan Dzagoev and the Brazilian to put his team ahead. "I hadn't scored for two matches so it was a pleasure," explained Doumbia, who has nonetheless plundered 12 goals in the Army Men's last ten games and hit five in as many UEFA Champions League sorties this term. "
Yesterday, when we came here to train, I took one look around and told myself that I was going to enjoy playing here, because the stadium here is just too beautiful."
Unfortunately for the Ivory Coast forward, who turns 24 on New Year's Eve, Esteban Cambiasso cancelled out his strike for the already qualified Nerazzurri within a minute. However, things began to go the visitors' way when, with five minutes remaining, Diego Milito hit the underside of the bar from close range; CSKA scored less than 60 seconds later – Vasili Berezutski heading in the winner – and the other match in the section remained goalless.
"When you score and the other side equalises within 30 seconds it's really hard to take," continued Doumbia. "But we did really well to keep our composure, stay focused and bide our time for the next goal. We refused to give up and kept going until we scored. I was so happy when we scored again but I didn't want to get too carried away because we didn't know what was happening in Lille. We had to see our match out and then see what happened in the other game. But when it was all over and we realised we'd gone through it was a magnificent feeling."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.