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SL Benfica left the Netherlands with a contented feeling after securing a precious away goal while keeping a clean sheet.
But they were made to work hard for the 1-0 victory, especially in the first half, by an AZ Alkmaar side who certainly were not overawed by their more illustrious opponents in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final. Benfica midfielder Nicolás Gaitán was naturally happy but cautioned that "the tie isn't over yet". AZ keeper Esteban hoped his side would throw caution to the wind next Thursday, saying: "We shouldn't be frightened to take risks."
Nicolás Gaitán, Benfica midfielder
It was a difficult match. They started well and were very good in possession. We spent a lot of time chasing the ball at the beginning without much success. But after about 15 or 20 minutes we began to find our feet and it became a different game. We knew it would be tough, because we studied AZ on video and saw they are a talented team. So we're happy that we're coming away with a positive result, although we are well aware that the tie isn't over yet.
I thought we scored a good goal, we had the initial chance to put the ball in the net [through Óscar Cardozo] and that was blocked, but [Eduardo Salvio] followed up to make sure. It made the difference tonight, although it's not an extremely comfortable lead to take into next week's return leg. We'll have to be at our best at home to go through.
Our fans were brilliant. We experienced the same thing in the previous round in London [against Tottenham Hotspur FC]. It's almost like we expect them to turn up wherever we are playing, because they're always there, and it gives us a real boost.
Esteban, AZ goalkeeper
We dominated the first half, so to concede so early after the break was like a slap in the face. After that Benfica played better. If they hadn't scored when they did then I'm not necessarily saying we would have won, but we would still have been in the game. And we certainly proved that we can compete with a team at their level.
Now we have to go to Portugal and essentially play the same way as we did tonight. We've got nothing to lose. We shouldn't be frightened to take risks. I'd much rather lose 3-0 there, after having tried our best, than exit the tournament without giving it a go.
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