Mbo Mpenza admitted to mixed feelings after his clinical double in RSC Anderlecht's 2-2 draw at LOSC Lille Métropole failed to keep the Belgian club's UEFA Champions League bid alive.
The 29-year-old striker exploded back into action after suffering a foot injury at the weekend, but his heroics were not enough to lift Anderlecht from the foot of Group H, where they trail leading duo AC Milan and AEK Athens FC by seven and four points respectively. "Of course, I'm happy to have scored two goals but the team is more important to me," he explained. "We leave here with a bitter taste in our mouths because we scored twice and only picked up one point. It's disappointing."
Had Italian heavyweights Milan managed to avoid defeat against AEK Athens FC, that one point would have left Anderlecht in with a shout of reaching the last 16. As it was, the Rossoneri suffered a 1-0 loss following two straight victories over Franky Vercauteren's charges, and Mpenza admitted to surprise at events in the Greek capital. He said: "I've always believed there's no point worrying what other teams do, but tonight we never thought Milan would lose. I think we were unlucky enough to play them at the wrong time."
UEFA Cup hopes
All is not lost for Les Mauves as they can still qualify the UEFA Cup. For that to happen they must see off AEK in Brussels on 6 December while hoping Milan defeat Lille at San Siro on the same day. "Unfortunately, we have to rely on Milan again," added Mpenza. "What's most important for us will be taking all three points against AEK, but the way we performed tonight against such an athletic team proves we're capable of reaching a high level. It was a display worthy of the UEFA Champions League because not every team can dictate the play here against Lille."
Ultimately it proved insufficient, of course, and Anderlecht quit the competition at the group stage for the fourth successive season. However, their man of the match at the Stade Félix-Bollaert believes he knows what it will take for them to eventually step up to the next level. "We need to cut out our individual mistakes," he said. "We made a few little errors in this game and they cost us dearly, but there's no point blaming anyone as we were really strong collectively."
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