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Russia forward Fedor Smolov felt everything went to script as he scored twice in a 2-0 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off victory against the Czech Republic, while team-mate Oleg Shatov highlighted the hosts' missed penalty as a crucial moment in the first leg.
Czech duo Stanislav Tecl and Ondřej Vaněk remain positive despite defeat and are determined to engineer a turnaround in Tuesday's decider in Yekaterinburg.
Fedor Smolov, Russia forward
We are all very happy because we have achieved a good result. We are even happier because we have got this result away from home. We did not concede and we are coming home with increased confidence. It was a very successful evening for us.
We expected the Czech Republic to play this way. They prefer physical football and are strong as a team, but we concentrated on our game and everything went as planned.
Oleg Shatov, Russia midfielder
We feel good because we have achieved what we wanted. We won 2-0 and have a slight advantage for the second leg, so we should be satisfied with our position going into the home match. It is a good result but we know there is the second leg [to come] and this game will definitely decide who qualifies.
The key moment of the game was the penalty that they missed. If we had conceded an equaliser, the end of the match would have been much harder for us. The Czechs would have gone forward in numbers trying to win and they would have been spurred on by their fans. However, we have an excellent goalkeeper [Nikolai Zabolotni] and I never doubted that he was going to do well.
In the second leg it will very important for us to win to confirm our place in the finals. It will be very important to score the first goal and force the Czechs to open up. We have very capable and fast, counterattacking players who will then be able to do their jobs well.
Stanislav Tecl, Czech forward
We faced a strong opponent, but we did not play well. We did not manage to play how we wanted to. Instead of quick passing we played long balls forward. We improved in the second half, when we had a penalty and three other chances. If we had taken any of those it would have been a much better night for us, but Russia outplayed us and were the better side.
The key factor was that we did not take our chances when we were 1-0 down. I do not only mean the missed penalty, but also the other opportunities. An equaliser would have changed the game. We are not going to give up and I promise that we will keep going until the last second.
Ondřej Vaněk, Czech midfielder
Our coach warned us that we were going to play against a very good team who are very fast and effective on the counterattack. We were not good in the first half, but we started the second period well and it was a great pity that we did not score. We missed the penalty and then we conceded – that was hard. The main disappointment is that we did not score.
We are not going to give up because we have a good team and everyone is capable of turning it round in the second leg. If they managed to score two goals here, we can do the same in Russia. We had enough opportunities to do so.
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