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MŠK Žilina may have bowed out of the UEFA Champions League with zero points from six matches, but coach Pavel Hapal says merely competing at this level for the first time was important for the Slovakian titleholders. Spartak needed a tactical switch to come from behind and claim a third victory in Group F, with Valeri Karpin saying a more advanced Alex had made the difference.
Pavel Hapal, Žilina coach
We had problems dealing with them in the opening 20 minutes, but after that things improved. We scored the first goal, but Spartak were able to equalise quickly. After that, when we started to play offensively, came another superb counterattack.
We played aggressively until the final seconds without any obvious signs of tiredness, but without success.
We've lost six games in the group stage which isn't great, but we have played Champions League football and that's what counts; it's important.
Valeri Karpin, Spartak coach
This game wasn't spectacular. We didn't expect Žilina to play so deep in front of their own supporters. There was no free space and it was tough for [Aleksandr] Kozlov – he isn't used to playing against such a compact defence.
In the second half we decided to move Alex up front as he has experience of playing as a second forward in Brazil, and as a result we scored twice.
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