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Sporting's prayers answered at the last

Published: Friday 16 March 2012, 8.04CET
Diego Capel admitted he was "praying the ball wouldn't go in" as Sporting Clube de Portugal survived a late header from Manchester City FC keeper Joe Hart to reach the last eight.
by Simon Hart
from City of Manchester Stadium

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Match statistics

Man. CitySporting

Goals scored3
 
2
Attempts on target4
 
3
Attempts off target9
 
4
Corners11
 
6
Offsides3
 
1
Fouls committed17
 
11
Yellow cards4
 
3
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Friday 16 March 2012, 8.04CET

Sporting's prayers answered at the last

Diego Capel admitted he was "praying the ball wouldn't go in" as Sporting Clube de Portugal survived a late header from Manchester City FC keeper Joe Hart to reach the last eight.

A last-gasp save from goalkeeper Rui Patrício to stop an added-time header by Manchester City FC counterpart Joe Hart took Sporting Clube de Portugal through to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on away goals despite surrendering a two-goal lead in a 3-2 second-leg defeat. For Diego Capel, the Sporting midfielder, it was the moment when his prayers were answered – "I was praying the ball wouldn't go in," he said.

Diego Capel, Sporting midfielder
We were up against very difficult opponents and it's normal to have some difficult moments but the team played a good first half, though it didn't earn us an easy second half – we struggled a bit but that's normal against a big team. I was praying the ball wouldn't go in [from Hart]. It was a great job from everyone and that save from Rui Patrício was brilliant.

This was a night to savour – we've achieved something big here. We got through a tough tie against a big team, we played well and played at a high level – and have to continue the same way. It is a competition I know and have enjoyed in the past [he was with Sevilla FC when they won the 2005/06 and 2006/07 UEFA Cups] and I want to do the same with Sporting.

Rui Patrício, Sporting goalkeeper
We had to be focused and ready for anything, until the final whistle. Thank God, I managed to stop that header. Our goal was to win and in the first half we went for that – we scored two goals against a very tough team.

Emiliano Insúa, Sporting defender
We knew it would be difficult, we were playing a great team as we all know – they're second in the Premier League. We knew we'd have to give everything out there. We struggled more in the end than we might have done but thankfully we got through. We're in the quarter-finals and we've showed we're a top-class side. In the first half we took advantage of the fact they were too relaxed and did well with our set pieces and our tactical plan. In the second half they came back at us and made changes, throwing a lot of forwards on.

Kolo Touré, City defender
In the last action of the game there was the header from [Hart] which their goalkeeper managed to turn away, unfortunately. That was hard but that's part of football. These are difficult moments and you have to stay strong mentally. We lost both matches in the first half – the two first halves, it was as if we thought we'd win easily but if you don't run, if you don't move, it is going to be difficult.

It's true that it's a long season and people are tired but it's all played in your head and you have to stay motivated and focused. It is the most important moment now and we can't let ourselves spoil it. Everyone has to work hard. We can't wait for our manager to shout at us or whatever it takes to get a reaction from us.

David Pizarro, City midfielder
In this competition, if you don't score away from home it makes things difficult. We have to look at what at happened in the first leg. We weren't so lucky – they scored with their two chances, that made it much more difficult, but we got close to getting through. Unfortunately their goalkeeper made the save. It was sad because we had the chances to go through. It is frustrating because of the quality we have in the squad but we have to recover now because we've an important run-in in the league.

Last updated: 27/11/12 4.21CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000274/match=2007461/postmatch/quotes/index.html#sportings+prayers+answered

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