R. Standard de Liège captain Igor De Camargo has warned that Hamburger SV can expect another hostile welcome when they travel to Belgium on Thursday.
A Mladen Petrić penalty and a Ruud van Nistelrooy strike within four minutes at the end of the first half turned the tie on its head last week after Dieudonné Mbokani had headed Standard in front. Somehow it remained 2-1 despite a string of chances in the second period headed by Mbokani, who guided De Camargo's deft chip onto the bar before screwing the rebound wide.
De Camargo, though, was satisfied with what was another mature performance by a side that has already ended the European ambitions of FC Twente and Panathinaikos FC this term. "It was a difficult game because we were up against an experienced team; it's not so easy for the younger players to face the likes of Zé Roberto and Van Nistelrooy," said the skipper, a relative veteran at 26. "But we played well and hopefully with another good game in Belgium we will qualify."
Hamburg have been here before. Four weeks ago they took a 3-1 cushion to Standard's domestic rivals RSC Anderlecht and were cruising when Jerome Boateng broke the deadlock just before half-time in Brussels. Then it all went wrong. Within 30 minutes their healthy three-goal advantage was a withered away-goals one and it took Petrić's strike 15 minutes from time to suppress the rebellion.
"We have watched videos of the Hamburg-Anderlecht tie and know Hamburg are always likely to concede a few, though they can also score very easily as we saw in the first leg," said De Camargo, adding that vociferous support at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne will count for nothing if his team-mates do not make a similar impression. "The Hell-Side [a well-known section of Standard fans] will ensure a good atmosphere but the game is played on the pitch, not in the stands. We will do our best to win, play well and hopefully go through."
Before last Saturday's game against R. Charleroi SC those passionate supporters unfurled a banner: "C'est une question de motivation" (It's a question of motivation). It was advice, a plea almost, to a side whose European endeavours are so at odds with their domestic form; a side whose dreams of a third successive Belgian title are long over. The best they can hope for from the end-of-season play-offs is a UEFA Europa League berth next term.
"We are not playing well in the Belgian championship, but when you talk about the Europa League and Champions League it is never hard to get motivated," De Camargo said. "We played an intelligent game in Hamburg – when you make as many chances as we did, in both halves, it reflects that. We have the away goal and that's important. Now it's for us to do the job in Belgium." Hamburg have been warned.
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