Club Atlético de Madrid's Koke and Léo Baptistão and FC Zenit's Cristian Ansaldi and Luís Neto all told UEFA.com that Wednesday's Group G opener against FC Zenit was a closely contested encounter. However, it was the hosts who emerged the 3-1 victors thanks, in no small part, to their Player Rater winner Koke who was involved in two of his side's three goals. UEFA.com rounds up the reaction from the Estadio Vicente Calderón.
Koke, Atlético midfielder
Above all I am happy for the win and for the team. It was a difficult match. It took us a lot of effort trying to get into the game in the beginning. We managed to score from a dead-ball situation but they then pulled level. It was hard but we managed to score two more to win the game.
[Zenit] played a great game. At the start they sat back but eventually went for it, just as we were doing. Thankfully we found that second goal which had a touch of luck about it. That was an important moment. We work on these set-piece moves during the week. We have players who are great headers of the ball and we try to take advantage.
We realise just how important a player [the absent] Diego Costa is to us but today Adrián López played in his place and he had a great game. The entire team worked a lot and continued to run and run. We played the way we know how and we are leaving here happy with the result. We are taking things on a game-by-game basis which is working very well for us. Now we are focusing on the Liga. When the time comes to think about [our next UEFA Champions League opponents] FC Porto, we will do so.
Léo Baptistão, Atlético forward
I am thrilled with my goal. I had just come on [as a substitute] and was immediately celebrating [a goal]. I was really eager to help the team. We have to keep our feet on the ground. We are doing phenomenally well but we must remain calm and go step by step in order for things to continue like this.
I am going to continue to work hard. When I arrived here I knew it was going to be difficult because of the competition that exists at the club; Diego Costa is doing really well while you also have Adrián [López], Raúl García, David Villa – they're all great. It's fantastic for the team that the attackers are in good form. In any given moment any one of us might need to help out.
This being the Champions League, you cannot afford to rest easy even for a second. We had the game in our hands tonight but Zenit then began to steal possession and pressurise us and they pulled it back to 1-1. We regained control later and you have to congratulate the team for that. We are not thinking about anyone else, only ourselves. We must now forget the Champions League in order to concentrate on the Liga.
Cristian Ansaldi, Zenit defender
I knew Atlético from having played [and beaten] them last year while I was with FC Rubin Kazan but this time the victory wasn't to be. The defeat is a painful one, because we were enjoying our best spell when they scored their second goal. The third killed the game and there was nothing we could do after that. This will help us to grow and we must continue working.
Obviously the style of play in the Champions League is different from that played by teams in the Russian league. There are players who have a bigger capacity and who are more powerful – you really notice it. But our team also have players of international standard, the majority play with their national side and they can compete at any level. We know that at home we have to be strong and we will look to take all nine points on offer there.
Luís Neto, Zenit defender
It was a hard encounter. Atlético put in a good first half in which we couldn't manage to create any counterattacks – which was our objective. Afterwards we suffered from dead-ball situations. We were better in the second half and managed to draw level. We also had that chance from Aleksandr Kerzhakov which hit the crossbar. We could have really taken over the game, had that gone in. But it didn't end up like that. We have to remember this was just the first game and there are five more in which to improve and fight for a place in the next round.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.