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Despite his team falling behind to a first-half goal, Jeremain Lens revealed PSV Eindhoven never lost belief their emphasis on attack would eventually pay off against LOSC Lille Métropole after a 5-3 aggregate win.
"It was a good victory," said Lens, the scorer of PSV's second during their 3-1 home victory in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 decider. "At half-time we agreed to continue playing the way we had because we were convinced the goals would come, and that's the way it turned out.
"We never doubted we could take what we needed out of the game," he added. "We had a lot of good chances throughout the match, so in the end I think 3-1 was a fair result."
When Ibrahim Afellay swapped Eindhoven for FC Barcelona in January and prolific young Brazilian striker Jonathan Reis suffered a serious knee injury, there were fears among the home supporters that their team's attacking prowess would be severely affected. However, they saw first hand that PSV are capable of sustained forward play against top-class opposition in the shape of the Ligue 1 pacesetters.
"We did well," said defender Erik Pieters. "We knew that Lille are a very good team with quality throughout their squad, but for us it was just important to stay calm and play our own game. It didn't work out in the first half, but we didn't let our heads drop." The result was the Eredivisie leaders' 50th victory in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League.
The visitors were understandably downhearted but not bitter. "It's obviously disappointing to lose after leading at half-time, but these things happen," said Pierre-Alain Frau, who struck his side's goal – their 100th in UEFA club competitions − but was then sent off for a second yellow card. "We conceded a bizarre goal, and then with ten men it was very difficult."
The strike he was referring to was Balázs Dzsudzsák's equaliser, a quick free-kick fired in from far out that caught Lille keeper Barel Mouko by surprise. "I was still arranging my wall when the ball came flying in," explained Mouko, who was making his debut in European competition.
"He took the kick very quickly, but what can you do − a goal is a goal. I didn't really fell they deserved it at the time, but afterwards they were just too strong." Frau agreed, saying: "PSV are a good side. They have very offensive players, and I think they have a fair chance in the following rounds."
Pieters, meanwhile, was positive about next month's encounter with Rangers FC. "I don't know much about them, but I'm looking forward to the matches − it should be a good atmosphere. Like this evening, we have to have confidence in our own ability and dare to play the football we know we are capable of."
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