Four away goals would usually guarantee progress in a European tie but that is not the case for Vitesse coach Fred Rutten as he aims to get past PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1936 and earn a meeting with his former mentor Guus Hiddink.
Vitesse led four times in Bulgaria last week only for Plovdiv to level each time, with Tássio making it 4-4 at the death – the 18th time the highest-scoring draw in UEFA club competition has been recorded. Although Vitesse know that avoiding defeat in Arnhem on Thursday should be enough for them to reach the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, Rutten wants a big improvement.
"I am happy with the four goals we scored," he said. "We knew we were able to do this with this team. But I am not satisfied at all with the goals we conceded. We gave away the match ourselves.
"At times we were too nervous in possession. We just gave the ball away. In this phase of pre-season you often see that. [In the second leg] we will be one week further on, so things will look different again."
Should Vitesse prevail, they could set up a date with Hiddink's FC Anzhi Makhachkala, who take a 1-0 cushion to Budapest Honvéd FC on Thursday. Rutten was Hiddink's assistant at PSV Eindhoven between 2002 and 2006 – yet right now his thoughts are on Lokomotiv.
"Things will not be as crazy in Arnhem as over there," Rutten said. "We will be one week further on in our development. In the away match you could see [Lokomotiv] had the advantage of having played more matches. We want to reach the next stage. So we have to, and want to, finish it in front of our fans."
Rutten's view of the first leg is shared by Plovdiv coach Emil Velev. "The first leg was a crazy game and we could even have won in the last seconds, when Yordan Todorov missed a wonderful chance," he said. "We were prepared for Vitesse. We knew them very well. We should have opened the scoring. Then we trailed four times and four times we came back. An incredible game."
Plovdiv's former Bulgaria striker Zdravko Lazarov added: "We did not expect such a scoreline. Our aim was to not concede, but we made lots of mistakes at the back. We played well and scored four goals and still failed to win. Unbelievable.
"Why did I point to my right leg when I scored my second goal? Because the great Hristo Stoichkov was in the stands and I just wanted to tell him my right leg is better than his right leg."
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