Miguel Ángel Lotina believes his side's maiden UEFA Champions League win will have a positive impact.
RC Celta de Vigo coach Miguel Ángel Lotina believes the 3-2 win against AFC Ajax in UEFA Champions League Group H has helped restore his side's confidence.
"This win was very useful for Celta's self-esteem," he said. "If we had had some more luck in our previous games we would already be qualified for the next stage." Celta had failed to win any of their first three games before breaking their tournament duck in thrilling fashion at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos in Vigo. A Peter Luccin penalty and a Savo Milosevic header gave the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.
Wesley Sonck then clawed a goal back before Vagner hit Celta's third. Ajax captain Rafael van der Vaart scored in the closing stages to ensure a nervous finish, but it was too little, too late. The win was Celta's first in the Champions League, and kept their qualification hopes alive. "It was a very good match with lots of goals and a tight result," said Lotina. "Although Celta played very well, Ajax came close to getting a very good result. They have good strikers who score very easily."
In Group H's other game, AC Milan secured a late 1-0 win over Club Brugge KV, leaving Celta well-placed in a tight group. "I want to thank the supporters," added Lotina. "The result was very important for the players, for me and above all for the club as an institution."
'100 per cent satisfied'
Sergio Fernández, Celta's central defender, also credited the fans for their help in securing the win. "We needed the win to be sure of being alive in the [UEFA] Champions League," he said. "The players are 100 per cent satisfied with the result and the help of the supporters must be credited."
Ajax coach Ronald Koeman conceded that his opponents had turned in a strong performance. "It was an open and entertaining match," he said. "Even though Celta started strongly, we began to take control of the game. Considering their performance, it was just about fair to say that they deserved to win.
"The only good thing I can take from this game is that our goal average is good and that if we finish level on points with Celta Vigo we should qualify. I believe nine points will be enough to secure qualification from this group. That means we need at least three points from our final two games."
By contrast, Lotina revealed that the he was unconcerned about Ajax having a better goal average than his side. "It is too early to think about what will happen if we finish level on points," he said. "Personally, I'm excited by the possibility of qualifying in Milan. In the next match I would like AC Milan to beat Ajax, but I think it will be very difficult for them."
Koeman singled out the first-half penalty decision as being the crucial moment in the game. "I cannot contest the penalty decision because I could not see it," he said. "What I do know is that from that moment on we started taking risks and began to lose control of the game."
Ajax captain Van der Vaart echoed his coach's sentiments about the key role the penalty played in how the game unfolded. "It certainly was the decisive point in the game," said the young Dutch international. "Celta were stronger than us in midfield and that is where we lost control of the game."