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Relief, delight and pride were the overriding emotions in the Borussia Dortmund camp after Kevin Grosskreutz's 87th-minute goal sealed a 2-1 victory at Olympique de Marseille and a spot in the last 16 as UEFA Champions League Group F winners.
"Perhaps we pulled off the impossible," commented playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan after last season's runners-up moved ahead of both Arsenal FC and SSC Napoli with that late clincher, having been in third with the Italian side beating the Gunners. The point-less hosts took heart from a committed performance just days after José Anigo stepped in to replace departed coach Élie Baup. "He's brought us a lot of aggression, hunger and combativeness," said left-back Benjamin Mendy of OM's interim boss.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Dortmund midfielder
We're very proud. We played a great game and, although we didn't score all our chances, we managed to get a second goal. That's what matters because during the game we heard Napoli were winning 1-0, so we gave all we had on the pitch to get over the line. We could have ended up first or third in the group, but we did our job well and took first place.
We knew Marseille wouldn't just play for a draw because they didn't want to finish with zero points in a home game. We expected a tough match and for them to try to win in front of their fans.
It's always difficult to play against a team that's defending when they have ten men, but Marseille still attacked on the break and had chances. We were ready for that, and we were able to find spaces at the end of the second half to get our second goal.
It was important to finish top because Dortmund were finalists in this competition last year. This year it was a tough group; it was a tough group last year as well, but maybe there were people who doubted we could finish top or even second this time. Perhaps we pulled off the impossible.
[After the winning goal] I remember feeling happy because there were just three minutes to go. I'm very proud we got it because throughout the group stage we've had problems, with red cards, injuries and so on. In spite of that, we still had players who could come in and play a great game.
Roman Weidenfeller, Dortmund goalkeeper
Thank God we made it, scored the goal and finished first in group. Maybe we will have a more straightforward opponent in the next round. It won't be easy, but of course it's a bit more comfortable for us now we've finished first in the group. We can relax a little when the draw happens.
We heard about the score in the Napoli game and three minutes before the end we were out. Then, moments later, we were first in the group. We're very happy to have made it as it was a very tough group. It was like against Málaga last year [in the quarter-finals], when we knew we would score a goal.
Benjamin Mendy, Marseille defender
We can't say we reacted well [to recent problems] because we lost, but in terms of attitude everyone fought to win and played together. Once again, that just wasn't enough. We had to give everything at home for ourselves, the fans and the club. We owed it to ourselves to take the three points tonight.
We wanted to show we have a good attitude, because that's what we often get criticised for, and we also wanted to show we're still Marseille and that the wins will start coming very soon. It's a difficult period, but that's football – there are highs and lows and things can change very quickly. We just have to keep going forward and not give up.
José Anigo's message has been simple: to have a good attitude and give everything on the pitch. It couldn't be clearer. You could see that in our performance – he's brought us a lot of aggression, hunger and combativeness, but unfortunately that didn't save us tonight.
In terms of regrets, we regret above all the opening match against Arsenal. We could have done something in that game, but sadly it didn't happen and we couldn't get going in the competition. We have to make up for that in Ligue 1 and the domestic cups.
Benoît Cheyrou, Marseille midfielder
If you focus on the result it's frustrating, but in terms of the performance things look better. We're very tired. We're gave everything tonight and it's a shame we conceded that goal at the end.
You can't discard everything we've done over the last week. We played well against Lille [last Tuesday] and we played well again this evening. We reacted well. It says good things about our mentality that we were able to equalise, and to put in so much effort together and suffer together when we were playing with ten men.
It's tough enough to take on a team like Dortmund with 11 players, and with ten it's even more difficult. We showed a good attitude and that's encouraging for the future. This performance was for the team, the club, the supporters – everyone.
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