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Xherdan Shaqiri was one of several new faces to shine as FC Bayern München breezed past FC BATE Borisov to claim first place in UEFA Champions League Group F. Speaking to UEFA.com the midfielder, who scored a rare header and set up Mario Gomez's opening goal in the 4-1 win, told how Jérôme Boateng's second-half dismissal forced the team to focus, while BATE's Aleksandr Hleb bemoaned some elementary errors from the Belarusian side.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Bayern midfielder
The whole team enjoyed it tonight. We wanted to put in a good performance and finish the group stage with a win. We knew that BATE were a good side who like to play on the counterattack, but after going 1-0 up we stepped it up a gear and scored more goals. Sometimes you play better when you're a man down because you focus more.
We made a lot of changes and everyone that came into the team wanted to perform well. We managed to do that. It was a shame we conceded a goal at the end because we wanted to keep a clean sheet. We'll have to see who we get in the draw. To be honest, it doesn't really matter because any team that has qualified for the last 16 is a good side, so it's going to be another step up for us.
Mario Gomez, Bayern striker
The important thing tonight was to secure top spot. We've managed that, which is what we all wanted. Our second task from the coach was to give the fans who made the effort to come and see this game something to savour. We did that, especially in the second half. We knew it wasn't going to be easy against a team that defends as hard as BATE. The first goal was important, but after that we did well, creating a lot of chances for the crowd to enjoy.
There's always room for improvement, but I hoped I'd rediscover my form after coming back from injury. I'd never been out for that long before, so you never know. Most people say you need a bit of time after an injury, but I worked hard while I was out. I tried to listen to what my foot was telling me and not rush back, so I only returned when it felt okay. The coach said he'd play me when he felt it was right and I trusted him on that.
All [three German teams] deserved to win their groups. It's nice to see that the Bundesliga is alive and catching up with the very best leagues. In terms of strength across the board, I'd even say it's the best at the moment. The top teams are all performing strongly in Europe.
Dante, Bayern defender
It was a bit different for me [to watch most of the game from the bench] but it was a good idea from the coach to change things a bit because we have a great squad and everyone deserves the chance to be involved. There were several players who haven't played too often who did really well tonight and showed plenty of confidence. We've got lots of strength in depth.
It's normal [that the team started slowly] because we had several players who hadn't played much at all over the past few months. To suddenly feature in a Champions League game, no matter who against, is tough, but the team played very well. To get the 4-1 victory was very important and I congratulate my colleagues on that.
Aleksandr Hleb, BATE midfielder
I'm very dissatisfied. We played really badly and made too many mistakes. We weren't communicating at the back – it was playground stuff. Nobody was calling at the back and that's what led to the mistakes. To concede two goals when you're 11 against ten is something I've never experienced before in my life.
Obviously Bayern are a quality side and it's hard to match them, but we managed to beat them with a bit of luck in Minsk. We fought that night and everything fell into place. Here, though, they didn't even have their best side out and still managed to give us a lesson in football.
Of course, I'm happy that we're in the Europa League. If someone had offered that before we qualified then I'd have taken it. Still, given how we started [with two wins] we did start to hope, but the last few games showed us what it means to be consistent and we have to learn from that. BATE are a small team and still managed to qualify, which is a great achievement. We won't get very far in the Europa League if we play like we did tonight.
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