|I||Sparta Praha||19:00||H. Kiryat Shmona|
After helping Olympique Lyonnais continue their perfect start to UEFA Europa League Group I, Gueïda Fofana acknowledged his team's 2-1 victory against Athletic Club was "a big step" towards the knockout stages. Rémi Garde's men are eight points clear of their third-placed opponents with three matches remaining.
Fofana fired in the shot which was parried into the path of match winner Jimmy Briand, who, after scoring four minutes from time, said Les Gones' performance against last season's runners-up "augurs well". Athletic captain Carlos Gurpegi lamented his side getting caught out as they pushed for the win in a "crazy" finale, but both he and goalscorer Ibai Gómez insisted all was not lost.
Gueïda Fofana, Lyon defender
We can't say that we've got our ticket for the next round in the bag – you never know what can happen in football – but we almost have it. We took a big step towards qualifying this evening. We put in a lot of effort and we defended well as Athletic kept the ball, like all Spanish teams do.
It was a little more open in the second half. We managed to score, and though they equalised, we showed our mental strength in coming through to win it at the end. It's not easy to do that after you've conceded an equaliser late on.
Jimmy Briand, Lyon forward
It's a great source of satisfaction that we won because it was a tough game in which we defended very well and took our chances. The best way to prepare for Sunday's game [against Olympique de Marseille] was to put in a good performance at home. It augurs well because Athletic are a very good team.
We don't feel strong, but we're confident in ourselves, in what we've been doing since the start of the season. It means that we can work calmly and go to Marseille this weekend and play well. I felt happy to have scored, but also for the team because it was a tough game and the goal did us a lot of good.
Carlos Gurpegi, Athletic midfielder
We played really well until we equalised. After that, we were so desperate to win the game that we became nervous and didn't play well in the last ten minutes. They came at us and scored the second goal and the game got away from us, even if I think we were the better side.
We had chances and all they had before taking the lead was a shot in the first half from outside the area. But after we equalised the closing stages were a bit crazy and they took advantage.
It's a painful defeat because we did enough, not just to draw the game but to win it. We will fight in our three remaining games. If we get all nine points that are still available to us then we will have a great chance of going through, and we have no choice but to do that. We demonstrated today that we are better than Lyon so we have to go out looking to beat them at home.
Ibai Gómez, Athletic forward
We were the better team for 80 to 85 minutes. When we got back to 1-1 we pushed forward to try and win the game. We probably pushed forward too much and left too many spaces at the back as a result. We went after the victory, our attack and defence became separated too much, they created chances and got the second goal.
It is a big blow because the team deserved more, but, in the end, all that matters is the result. I sincerely think we are still in this competition. It will be very complicated but we will keep working and fighting to get the nine points left to play for. Then we'll see what happens.
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