|I||H. Kiryat Shmona||21:05||Sparta Praha|
FC Anji Makhachkala gave coach Guus Hiddink the perfect 66th birthday present as they beat Liverpool FC 1-0 to return to the top of UEFA Europa League Group A. The Russian outfit were made to battle hard for their victory by a young visiting side that made up in intensity for what they lacked, at times, in application. Christopher Samba and Mbark Boussoufa said their professionalism at both ends told, but there is a sense that this section is far from over.
Mbark Boussoufa, Anji forward
It was a very important three points and I think it was well deserved. It is not easy to play against a team like Liverpool but we did well today and the most important thing is we got the result we needed. It was a bit annoying at the end as Liverpool were putting pressure on us as they were looking for the equaliser, but we found it difficult to score a second. If we had managed a second then we could have relaxed.
We are realistic and Liverpool are a big team, but we know we have quality players as well, players who have played at a high level. We are a small club on the way up and beating Liverpool is very satisfying. We are in a great position now in the group. It's not all done as the group is still very tight, but we made a very good step today.
Christopher Samba, Anji defender
It was a good game because Liverpool came here with a very young team with plenty of intensity and desire. We did what we needed to – we were solid at the back and scored the goal. This is a very tight group we are in and it will be tight until the end so we certainly have to keep on playing well.
I and a few of the other guys actually found this game harder than the one at Anfield where we lost. Liverpool were playing with more intensity but a little less effectiveness today. Their intensity was excellent and I think they have a bright future ahead of them. It was not easy for us and we had to respect this young team, stay professional and do the job in front of us.
Arseni Logashov, Anji defender
It was nice to give Guus Hiddink a nice birthday present and get all three points. We played well and can be pleased with our performance. The most important thing is that we won.
Daniel Pacheco, Liverpool forward
We pushed hard throughout but we made one mistake at the back and conceded a goal. I think we deserved a point, but we didn't get it so we are very disappointed. We need to take some positives out of the game and I think we can be proud. As I said we deserved a point, but now we are already looking ahead to the next game at the weekend.
This was a very important game for some of the fringe players as we got the chance to show the manager we are ready to play. We tried our best, but are disappointed to have conceded the goal and to have lost. We have got two games left and we need to win them to qualify.
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