Danko Lazović "was relieved" to open his UEFA Champions League account against PFC CSKA Moskva after missing chances on his European debut for PSV Eindhoven.
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With Jefferson Farfán not yet back to full fitness and Arouna Koné already departed for Sevilla FC, the PSV Eindhoven front line had a new look to it in the Group G opening tussle against PFC CSKA Moskva. However, new boys Danko Lazović and Danny Koevermans, ably supported by another recent arrival Kenneth Perez, in the end proved too much for the Russian champions to handle last night.
Lazović in particular was a constant thorn in the visitors' side, often pulling out wide to either flank in order to create more space through the middle or to try and get behind the defence to fire in a cross. He was predictably delighted to get on the scoresheet on his UEFA Champions League debut. "Danny and I missed three chances at the start of the second half, and I began to wonder if we would get any more," said the 24-year-old Serbian striker, who signed during the summer from Arnhem side BV Vitesse. "I was relieved when another one came along and I converted it, although winning was even more important."
Perez, who recently joined PSV from rivals AFC Ajax, was thrust into the fray when playmaker Ibrahim Afellay left the pitch just before the half-hour mark with a suspected broken toe. "I hadn't really given a good account of myself in the three league games I had played for PSV so far, so it was great to get another chance and show what I could do," he said. The Danish international certainly brought a greater directness to the PSV midfield, and capped a fine inaugural UEFA Champions League display by setting up the first goal courtesy of a measured pass and scoring the second with a rising drive.
The 2-1 victory was all the more welcome because, apart from a purple patch during the first 20 minutes of the second half, PSV generally found it tough going against Valeri Gazzaev's skilful side. "I thought that they were a good team with two very capable front men," said Lazović, a sentiment shared by his fellow PSV forward. "You could see they can really play well together and we had a couple of narrow escapes," said Koevermans. "We were especially lucky that Jô was just a little bit too short to put away that header at the end!"