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Nolito torn between Benfica's pleasure and pain

Published: Thursday 6 December 2012, 1.07CET
Full time brought a bittersweet moment for Nolito at the Camp Nou, knowing a draw at "the best team in the world" was not enough to keep alive SL Benfica's UEFA Champions League hopes.
by Graham Hunter
from Camp Nou
 
 
 
Published: Thursday 6 December 2012, 1.07CET

Nolito torn between Benfica's pleasure and pain

Full time brought a bittersweet moment for Nolito at the Camp Nou, knowing a draw at "the best team in the world" was not enough to keep alive SL Benfica's UEFA Champions League hopes.

Nolito was left with mixed emotions after SL Benfica's final game in Group G, torn between the joy of getting a 0-0 draw – the least he felt they deserved – away to "the best team in the world" and the pain that came with the knowledge that it was not enough. FC Barcelona kept them at bay, largely thanks to goalkeeper José Pinto, one of few veterans in an experimental team heavy on home-grown talent. He stressed that a sense of respect for other teams in the section honed their focus when UEFA Champions League progress as group winners was already assured.

Nolito, Benfica forward
It's a bittersweet feeling as we leave knowing we did everything in our power to win. We deserved victory. But there are times when the ball just won't go in for you and that was the case here. Honestly, I think that we can be proud because there are few teams who get a draw here and to perform like we did tonight is impressive, against the best team in the world.

It's a shame we couldn't qualify for the next round of this competition but we have domestic matches immediately and it's important to focus on that. It's great to play here, in front of these fans, and in the end I'm only sad that we didn't win the victory we merited.

José Pinto, Barcelona goalkeeper
Benfica really took the game to us and created many chances. It's clear that they had more opportunities than we did. We had the ball more, put together more passes but above all we showed a serious, professional attitude with motivation. We played well.

This club puts lots of faith in the youth system and the younger players who come in keep showing that they deserve that faith. Our staff make sure these guys are so well prepared. Right now we are in an era when there is lots of talent in our system. We went out to win, to play seriously and show respect to all the other teams.

If Celtic have gone through then I'm pleased for them but that wasn't our focus. Our task, always, is to do our work so that our fans are pleased with us.

Rafinha, Barcelona forward
If you are a young player at this club it makes you happy to be given your chance in a big match like this. OK, the club had qualified but every UEFA Champions League tie is important and it's an immense feeling, marvellous, even to be part of it. Unforgettable and still more incredible to do so beside my brother, Thiago [Alcántara]. This is a strong side we have.

Last updated: 06/12/12 11.37CET

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