Midfielder Simon Rolfes insisted Bayer 04 Leverkusen can pride themselves on taking "steps forward" despite exiting the UEFA Champions League in the last 16 with a 2-1 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain. The result was the German club's sixth loss in their last seven games in all competitions, but they took a shock early lead and Rolfes had a penalty saved by Salvatore Sirigu, before Emre Can's second-half dismissal helped their off-colour opponents complete a 6-1 aggregate win.
Simon Rolfes, Leverkusen captain
The task for us today was to play much better than in the first leg. We were in a difficult situation before the game – we've lost a lot of games in the Bundesliga, so it was important for us to put in a good performance, for today and to gain a little self-confidence for the Bundesliga. The first half was good from us, and with my penalty we could even have gone in front.
When you lose 4-0 in the first leg, you see the second as a way of correcting things for the team. We said beforehand that we had to earn a little pride in terms of the international view of Bayer Leverkusen. We didn't win the game, but perhaps we did that.
[For the penalty, Sirigu] was very fast to his corner and [dived] very early. I had decided which corner to put the penalty. It was bad luck for me because in the first half we'd played well, defended strongly and had good, fast counterattacks. If we'd gone in front at 2-1, it would have opened the game up.
Today was also important in terms of taking a step forward, because we have lost a lot of matches in the last few weeks. We said this week would be very hard for us with games against Paris and Bayern München, but we have taken steps forward in our self-confidence and also our style of play – in defence, but also our attack. This was a small step so that we can reach our goal of qualifying for the Champions League again next year.
Philipp Wollscheid, Leverkusen defender
We wanted to do a lot better and we did so, but it is still disappointing to lose, if only by a small margin. If we had converted the penalty, we could have got a result but nevertheless you felt they were always capable of upping the ante and that's disappointing.
We had the feeling we were close today. We conceded from a set piece which should not happen. But you have to say that the clearly better side went through and deservedly won today.
In our Champions League season we put in some performances which were unacceptable so this was a step into the right direction against an opponent of this level. We did see that we are inferior to such opponents. But we cannot perform like we did in the first leg. In future we have to perform like we did today and with a little bit of luck we can get results then.
We have had a weaker spell lately and the match on Saturday [at Bayern] will not be easy. But there are enough games left for us to directly qualify for the Champions League again.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.