Carl Hoefkens was grateful the vociferous home support finally had something to celebrate after Ivan Perišić's last-gasp strike against Toulouse FC ensured Club Brugge KV of a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League.
Reason for cheer
The Belgian side went into the match needing only a point to pip their French opponents to second place in Group J behind FC Shakhtar Donetsk, and held out to record their fourth clean sheet in five matches in all competitions, Perišić rewarding the home team's second-half dominance with the night's only goal three minutes into added time. "We could have played for a 0-0 draw very easily but luckily enough for our fans, we scored the winning goal," Hoefkens said. "We played pretty well and created a few chances but didn't manage to take them. I'm particularly pleased we got the winning goal for our fans because they'd waited long enough to celebrate."
Despite the slender margin of the victory, the centre-back – whose team had 15 shots on goal to their opponents' five – believed Club Brugge were worthy winners, although he admitted tension had been creeping in before Perišic pounced. "The whole team played very well, the midfield worked hard and the forwards held up the ball and created chances," he explained. "We were pushed back a bit by Toulouse; we wanted to go for the win but when it's still goalless after 75 minutes, every small piece of action can have a dramatic effect. If you look at the results over the whole group, we've won three games and drawn two so we deserve to get through. If we keep playing like this, there are plenty of teams we could beat in the next round."
'Couldn't take our chances'
While the victors can look forward to Friday's draw, Toulouse captain Étienne Didot could only look back on what might have been. "We were really keen to get through this stage, so of course we're disappointed," he said. "We didn't play particularly badly, and had our chances, but we couldn't take them. Brugge were more efficient than us in the final third. The European season is over for us, but now we have to put all our efforts into the domestic competitions."
A plethora of injuries forced Alain Casanova to field a youthful team at the Jan Breydel Stadium, and Didot is optimistic that this experience can bring future benefits. "It wasn't as if we played badly and got beaten - we were just missing the final touch," he said. "We're disappointed but that's football. We have a young squad that's full of quality and it's a shame we haven't been able to get through because we have some talented and courageous players. We're missing the little moments, the little details, but there are some good players in our squad and I believe we'll soon be back."
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