Had FC Krylya Sovetov Samara held on to the squad they took into the recent transfer window, supporters would have been delighted with a 5-3 win in the home leg of their UEFA Cup first-round tie against AZ Alkmaar.
That they achieved that result on Thursday despite losing eight first-team players over the summer due to a severe financial crisis, ensured Gadzhi Gadzhiyev's team and the fans really had something to celebrate after the first leg.
Krylya Sovetov are fourth from bottom in Russia's Premier-Liga and struggling to regain form since the departure of long-time president German Tkachenko and senior players including Russian internationals Denis Kolodin, Aleksandr Anyukov and Andrei Kariaka, Lithuanian international Robertas Poškus and Serbo-Montenegrin international Ognen Koroman.
Van Gaal stunned
However, this did not stop them producing a stunning display against last season's UEFA Cup semi-finalists in Samara. AZ coach Louis van Gaal was mightily impressed, saying: "Krylya's tactical system was a complete surprise for me, we've never encountered anything like that before.
"We had seen Krylya's last two matches and thought we were guaranteed at least a low-scoring win," he added. "I hope this match will not become a psychological burden for my players, as we still need only two goals to progress. I think the odds are 40/60 in favour of Krylya Sovetov."
Gadzhiyev, whose heroic work is keeping the club afloat at the moment, thought the Dutchman was being generous. "I think Van Gaal underestimates his team when he rates their chances," he said. "Alkmaar are a top-class side. We could not defend our goal properly. We need to review the match and find out how to defend against them."
However, while Gadzhiyev was heading back to the drawing board, his players were in party mood. Ghanaian Baba Adamu said: "I never doubted we would beat them, but I did not anticipate such an exciting scoreline. We were better motivated than Alkmaar and that's a great compliment to our coach."
The 22-year-old midfielder Anton Bober, playing at wing-back due to a shortage of fit defenders, was one of the heroes of the night after scoring the late goal that restored Krylya Sovetov's two-goal advantage. "It was completely automatic," he said. "I saw the space, ran into it and shot. It turned out to be a great goal. To be honest, I never expected us to score so many goals. I thought it would be a one or two-goal game."
'God only knows'
Bober was delighted to give credit to Gadzhiev's pre-match team talk, saying: "He asked us to devote all our attentions to defending, as the Dutch have excellent attackers. But fortunately, they also let the opposition play football. God only knows what will happen now."
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