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Ludovic Obraniak hailed LOSC Lille Métropole's 3-0 victory over KAA Gent "a beautiful night" as the Ligue 1 pacesetters reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for a second successive year.
Les Dogues have struggled to replicate their outstanding domestic form in Europe at times this season but had no such trouble on Thursday, as goals from Obraniak, Pierre-Alain Frau and Moussa Sow clinched an emphatic victory. Francky Dury's charges began with a two-point advantage over Lille in Group C, yet from the moment Obraniak rounded Bojan Jorgačević to score on the half-hour there was little doubt as to which side would accompany section winners Sporting Clube de Portugal in Friday's draw.
Obraniak, who had latched on to Marko Šuler's back pass to score, admitted there was little to choose between the teams in the opening stages. "The first few minutes were tough because the pace was fast and the pitch wasn't in great condition," the Polish international told UEFA.com. "We wanted to press them high up the pitch but we took a while to get going. Luckily we took advantage of an individual error and things went well from then on."
Rudi Garcia's free-scoring team subsequently took control, striking the woodwork three times and adding two more goals in the second half. Obraniak said: "We played our football and eased to victory in the second half. We passed and moved well, and remained solid. Above all,
we enjoyed ourselves immensely and the third goal capped a beautiful night."
While Obraniak posed a constant threat from the right, Eden Hazard was ever dangerous on the opposing flank. The 19-year-old was delighted by the manner of the win. "We created a lot of chances," the Belgium forward said. "
We hit the post three times and we scored three goals: That's encouraging after only scoring one [in the previous match against AC] Arles-Avignon. We're pleased to be through," he continued. "This competition gives us the chance to play big teams in big stadiums."
While in-form Lille celebrated their latest success, Gent were left to rue individual errors. Midfielder Randall Azofeifa was magnanimous in defeat, saying: "I want to congratulate Lille. They're a strong team who played well and deserve to go through. When you play against a side of their quality you cannot afford to make the mistakes we did. In this competition you have to take your chances: we didn't and were punished."
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