Proud coach Francky Dury described SV Zulte Waregem's UEFA Cup success against FC Lokomotiv Moskva as "like a two-horsepower engine beating a Ferrari".
Despite a budget estimated as one-eighth that of their Russian rivals, the Belgian side overcame a 2-1 first-leg deficit to win 2-0 at the Jules Otten stadium in Gent and claim a place alongside Belgian top-flight rivals Club Brugge KV in the draw for the UEFA Cup group stage.
"Us winning here was like a two-horsepower engine beating a Ferrari," said Dury after the final whistle. "These were the strongest opponents I have ever faced. After the first leg we were in the ideal underdog position. [Jonas] Vandermarliere's goal in Moscow gave us hope of an upset."
'My God, what have I done?'
That goal in added time in Moscow did indeed set up a mighty upset. Second-half goals back in Belgium from Tim Matthys and Tony Sergeant finished the job. "I never dared to imagine this," said a shocked Matthys. "After I scored that goal I was thinking, 'My God, what have I done?'. It is unbelievable that we have knocked them out - a miracle. Our European campaign already is a success so I don't care who we meet next. Let the big guns come now. In Europe they will know who Zulte Waregem are now."
However, any late celebrations were a no-no for Matthys, who like the rest of his semi-professional team-mates, had work to do on Friday morning - in his case working in a sports shop. "I have to be in at 9.30," he said. "I am not taking any time off."
Formed by the merger of two sides, Zultse VV and KSV Waregem, the club played their first season in the Belgian third division in 2001/02, eventually rising to the top level in 2005 and winning the 2005/06 Belgian Cup to earn a first stab at European football this summer.
Waregem had previously played in the UEFA Cup in 1985/86, beating CA Osasuna, AC Milan and HNK Hajduk Split before being denied a place in the final by 1. FC Köln. A repeat of that performance would indeed be a miracle for the new club, but their first priorities are just breaking even.
"This is a good thing for Zulte Waregem and Belgian football," said sporting director Luc Dhaenens. "I hope we can now make up for the losses we made with our trip to Moscow. Hopefully we will not have to travel so far again. But if you can organise a trip to Moscow, you can handle everything."
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