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Defender Rabiou Afolabi was delighted after helping FC Salzburg through to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with the first of their two goals against S.S. Lazio, saying a fifth consecutive Group G win was just the next stage in the Austrian club's evolution.
Afolabi put Salzburg in the ascendancy with an unstoppable header on 52 minutes, and although Pasquale Foggia soon replied for the Biancoceleste, Somen Tchoyi ensured the hosts qualified with a match to spare. "It was a crucial win for us," Afolabi told uefa.com. "We have 15 points, we've qualified as group winners and everyone was delighted after that display. We don't want to stop here though; we want to keep the run going and we'll be looking to make it six out of six against Villarreal. We've been playing well for some time now and have started to grow as a team and a club. We want to keep growing, which is why we'll be looking to win again in Spain."
Salzburg had enjoyed most of the possession without really making their chances count until Afolabi showed the way with a goal forged from the experience of an itinerant career spent in Belgium, Italy and France. "It's definitely the best goal I've scored in Europe although I hit a similar one for Sochaux against Marseille about four years ago," he said. "I don't have the quality of some players here but I try to play to my strengths and that goal was important because it gave us a boost and the confidence to control the game."
Afolabi, 29, believes Salzburg now have the quality and confidence to keep springing surprises. "There are a lot of good teams in the Europa League, but we have a lot of good players here too; a lot of international players. If we can keep our concentration like we did tonight then we can go far; we might do something special. This is one of the best nights of my career. [In 2004/05] I was at Austria Wien and we got to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals so I'm hoping to do even better this time."
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