SK Slavia Praha matchwinner Tijani Belaid said the Czech side's clinical finishing was the key to their 2-1 defeat of FC Steaua Bucureşti in Group H.
The Tunisian international midfielder applied the coup de grâce to a flowing team move in Prague to ensure Slavia's first group stage game ended on a high. "Steaua were good on the ball, but they had some difficulty in applying the finishing touch as our defenders handled their forwards superbly," the French-born Belaid told uefa.com. "On the other hand, we were able to put our chances away, even though we didn't create all that many. It's as simple as that."
Zdenek Šenkerík's 13th-minute goal put the Czech league leaders in front but a Dorin Goian header brought Steaua level before the break. However, buoyed by a vocal capacity crowd packed into the Evzena Rošického Stadium, Slavia gained the upper hand, and Belaid could barely conceal his delight after ensuring his side got their just desserts.
He said: "It's pure joy. My first match in the [UEFA] Champions League, only my second-ever start. It's a dream to have scored and have helped the team win," said the 20-year-old, who is on loan in the Czech capital from FC Internazionale Milano. "But we can't rest on our laurels. There are still five tough games to play. We have to give it our all and try and get some good results."
Only Vladimír Šmicer in the Slavia squad had previously tasted this level of competition. However, the ex-Liverpool FC midfielder failed an eleventh-hour fitness test to leave the starting XI desperately short on experience, and Belaid admitted the historical significance of the match had led to an edgy opening before they eventually found their feet.
"It's because it was the very first match in the Champions League in Slavia's history. We weren't nervous, but we were under pressure a little," he revealed. "We started badly, but in the second half we came back into it. We started to play with more movement and got the right result - there's nothing better than that."
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