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Elated after helping R. Standard de Liège record their maiden UEFA Champions League victory against Olympiacos FC on Wednesday, Mohamed Sarr predicted that he and his team-mates could yet seize a qualification berth in Group H.
The Senegal defender had to be withdrawn early in the second half with a muscle problem, but by that point the Belgian champions were already on their way to a 2-0 win that lifted them off the bottom of the pool and within two points of their beaten opponents. Dieudonné Mbokani pounced on a mistake at the back to get Standard going with 31 minutes gone, and despite some nervy moments after the break, they made sure of the points two minutes from time when Milan Jovanović headed in the rebound following another Mbokani effort. Standard's next mission will be to earn a positive result against section frontrunners Arsenal FC on 24 November before finishing strongly at home against AZ Alkmaar.
'Anything is possible'
"It's always a good thing to win in the Champions League and this is magnificent," said Sarr. "It's an exceptional competition and I hope we stay in it as long as possible because we showed some good things today. Anything is possible. We can go to Arsenal and win and we can beat Alkmaar here. The Champions League is all about details; it comes down to little things. We know that. We'll prepare the best we can and if luck smiles on us in the second half of the group stage, then why not dream of finishing second."
The 25-year-old is convinced Les Rouches will see out the group stage in better shape than they began it as they continue their education in their first campaign at this level. László Bölöni's youthful team kicked off by letting a 2-0 lead morph into a 3-2 reverse against Arsenal on Matchday 1 and also went ahead at Olympiacos a fortnight ago, only to lose 2-1. This time they held firm. "It's difficult for us because we have young players, so we were afraid of losing again and kept dropping further and further back," he said. "We were able to control things, though, and I think we learned a bit from previous mistakes. Today we gained even more experience and given how we've played so far I think we deserve more than four points."
'They gave everything'
The former AC Milan centre-back, who spent most of his Rossoneri campaign out on loan, was also quick to recognise the efforts of his colleagues further forward, having publicly asked them to help out more at the back recently. "The strikers did a super job," he said. "They scored, they ran, they gave everything they had. That's football: you have to be united and give everything. It's not always about playing well or badly. The important thing is that when you're there, you give everything you have. Today everyone did that."
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