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Sizzling Zürich close in on group stage

Published: Thursday 20 August 2009, 11.45CET
FC Zürich anchorman Onyekachi Okonkwo said his team-mates' burning desire to reach the group stage was the reason they played "so aggressively" at FK Ventspils, as they earned a 3-0 win.
by Denis Novitsky
from Riga
Sizzling Zürich close in on group stage
Zürich celebrate what could be a decisive victory in Riga ©Getty Images

Match statistics

VentspilsZürich

Goals scored0
3
Attempts on target1
 
5
Attempts off target6
 
9
Corners2
 
3
Offsides4
 
1
Fouls committed13
 
18
Yellow cards2
 
0
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Thursday 20 August 2009, 11.45CET

Sizzling Zürich close in on group stage

FC Zürich anchorman Onyekachi Okonkwo said his team-mates' burning desire to reach the group stage was the reason they played "so aggressively" at FK Ventspils, as they earned a 3-0 win.

FC Zürich anchorman Onyekachi Okonkwo said his team-mates' burning desire to reach the group stage was the reason they played "so aggressively" at FK Ventspils, as they earned a 3-0 win.

Near miss
The Nigerian nearly scored a fourth of the night for Zürich following efforts from Johan Vonlanthen, Silvan Aegerter and Dušan Djurić, but his curling effort was flighted just over the bar. Nonetheless, he could have no complaints about the scoreline, which leaves the Swiss champions group-stage bound, barring a second-leg calamity.

'It's not over'
"We all really want to reach the group stage, and winning at Ventspils was vital in reaching that goal," said Okonkwo. "That's why we played so aggressively. We pushed very hard and took our chances. Ventspils didn't surprise us; I suppose we surprised them. But it's not over until it's over. We have to work hard to win the second leg too."

Hassli menace
French striker Eric Hassli did not get on the scoresheet but menaced the Latvian champions relentlessly, and he believed the memory of a 3-2 home defeat by Slovenia's NK Maribor in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie kept his side focused in Riga. "It was a very serious match, and we respected our opponents," he said.

Lesson learned
"The first goal was very important for us as it helped us to settle down," added the towering 28-year-old. "A defeat at home by Maribor in the last round was a very good lesson for us, and this game showed that we learned that lesson well. The atmosphere in our team is really great, and that is a huge help in such matches."

No surrender
The atmosphere in the Ventspils ranks was understandably a little more subdued, with Moldova defender Igor Ţîgîrlaş saying: "Our mistakes cost us. We prepared well for the match and expected this kind of football but we couldn't take our scoring chances. Still you always have a chance, and I can assure you we are not going to give up before the end of the second leg."

Last updated: 20/08/09 14.55CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000027/match=2000346/postmatch/quotes/index.html#sizzling+zurich+close+group+stage

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