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For coach Jean-François De Sart, tonight's 1-0 Group A victory against Israel was the moment he was finally convinced he has something special on his hands in this Belgium Under-21 team. De Sart hailed his players' "extraordinary spirit" after they overcame the setback of Marouane Fellaini's early sending-off to win with a late Kevin Mirallas goal. Israel's trainer Guy Levy was equally satisfied with his charges, saying the result was the only disappointment from a "really impressive performance".
Jean-François De Sart, Belgium coach
The players deserve great credit for sticking at it, they were fantastic. It was the right result based on our display and they are a great bunch. It is not just a question of tactics and skills; there's an extraordinary spirit there and they really want to achieve something. If I wasn't convinced before today that they are a special group, I am now. The courage and desire of the lads was plain to see. If I thought the yellow cards for Fellaini were a bit harsh, I told the players at half-time to forget that and concentrate their energy on getting the job done. And they were exemplary. Jonathan Blondel and Anthony Vanden Borre on the wings were tremendous and we ended the game looking stronger than Israel. We were picking up the loose balls and felt we could score. Kevin hit the post and then scored and it was important for the squad that we won. We knew a victory would be crucial if we were to continue in this tournament. I am also very proud because for the second game running one of our players has won the Man of the Match award [Mirallas succeeding Fellaini].
Guy Levy, Israel coach
It was an excellent match but we lost a game we practically won in every area of the pitch. We cancelled Belgium out and had a number of one-on-ones with their goalkeeper. Today we played attacking football trying to score, whereas in the first match against the Netherlands we were guilty of sitting back. It was a really impressive performance and the only thing that went against us was the result. The game was planned to perfection, we did everything we had to, so we are disappointed but proud. It was pure luck we lost; in a normal situation, I would be explaining a 2-0 victory, not a defeat, but it can sometimes hinge on whether a ball goes two centimetres this way or that. This was a game where everyone did his job and stood firm. If we know how to treat the game of football properly, we will go on to achieve more peaks like this. You can't control everything and you need some luck to win. My glass is half full. If we carry on as we are, with our national teams, it won't be a tournament every 30 years but every two years – then we'll know better how to get that vital goal.
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