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FC Metalist Kharkiv may have been forced to settle for second in UEFA Europa League Group I following a goalless draw at PSV Eindhoven, but the Ukrainian outfit were left more than satisfied with their campaign to date.
With both sides already through to the round of 32, and PSV unbeaten in nine straight European home games prior to the visit of Metalist, it was little surprise that neither appeared prepared to go for broke. Furthermore, Myron Markevich's team, third in the Ukrainian Premier League, have not conceded on the road in the competition since a 1-1 draw at SK Sturm Graz in last season's play-offs.
Metalist's captain, central defender Milan Obradović, was proud to preserve that an impressive run. "We are playing very well away from home," he told UEFA.com. "We have only conceded two goals in all competitions away from home since July. That that gives us belief that, no matter which team we draw, we have a chance."
Such confidence was only bolstered by a point at PSV, among the most impressive group stage performers. "We were happy with our game, although there were moments in the first half where we could have scored," added Obradović. "However, if someone had asked us before the start of the group stage if we would be happy to finish in second place, we would have said yes."
Defensive colleague Papa Gueye is equally satisfied by the team's efforts in emerging from a group also containing UC Sampdoria. "It's great to have qualified for the next round," he said. "Winning the group would have been better, because we would have the second game at home in the next round, but the runners-up spot isn't bad either. PSV are a big team, so we should be content with a point."
Though PSV required just a draw to be assured of topping the section, forward Jeremain Lens admitted only victory was on their minds. "We definitely wanted all three points, but ultimately I think we should be happy that we didn't lose and finished top of the group," he said. "They had better chances during the game, especially in the first half, so 0-0 wasn't such a bad outcome for us.
"You saw that they have good players in their team, so it's not such a surprise that they've gone through," he said. "The name Sampdoria stands for more in Europe than Metalist, so maybe people expected them to qualify, but Metalist finished above them and deserved to."
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