Midfielder Semir Štilić expects to receive a sweet sense of satisfaction after setting up team-mate Artjoms Rudņevs for KKS Lech Poznań's goal in the 1-1 draw against Juventus that sent the Polish champions into the UEFA Europa League round of 32 at their illustrious guests' expense.
Štilić's corner teed up Rudņevs for Lech's 12th-minute opener and the Bosnia and Herzegovina midfielder was quick to remind his striking colleague what the assist was worth. "
Artjoms hasn't thanked me for my cross yet but I expect some sort of reward – I think a nice cake would do it," the 23-year-old said. "But we will ensure that for our final group game [at FC Salzburg] we will be just as determined as tonight, because for this club every European game is a huge deal.
"Games like this, against teams like Juventus and Manchester City [FC], are vital for us because they gives us great experience and help us build confidence for the tests ahead," added Štilić. "We are proving we are moving in the right direction. Now we are playing and matching European giants. Slowly but surely we are building the future of this club."
Lech knew that avoiding defeat against the Bianconeri would almost certainly take them though to the last 32 from Group A. Although the Railwaymen conceded a Vincenzo Iaquinta equaliser after 84 minutes and faced a late Juve flurry amid heavy snow at the Miejski Stadium, the hardy Lech fans who braved the arctic weather were rewarded by a memorable 1-1 draw.
"We're delighted to get through," Latvian international Rudņevs told UEFA.com after scoring his fourth goal against La Vecchia Signora, having hit a hat-trick in the clubs' 3-3 draw in Turin on Matchday 1. "It wasn't easy in the snow but that's football. Sometimes you have to play in rain, sometimes the snow, but we coped well. I seem to keep scoring against Juve but I'm not complaining. They were important goals and I'm happy I scored them."
"When the draw was made nobody gave us a prayer," said Lech goalkeeper Krzysztof Kotorowski. "Everyone was saying that if we got three points it would be a miracle, but now we have eight and we have qualified. This was no ordinary group – it was as strong as a [UEFA] Champions League group – so I rate us quite highly in Europe now. We'll wait to celebrate until after our last game against Salzburg, then we'll celebrate properly."
Conditions were so severe that at half-time the ball was changed from white to orange while Lech ground staff painted the touchlines pink. "The snow was not ideal for football but we are professionals so we can't complain about the weather not suiting us," said Lech captain Bartosz Bosacki. "
The key was communicating well at the back, which was an achievement in itself because as soon as you tried to shout you got a mouthful of snow. But it was worth it. I don't know who'll we play next but we want to play one of the bigger teams because we want to keep proving we are good enough to beat the best."
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