Arouna Koné told uefa.com Sevilla FC "eased off a bit" after going 2-0 up against Fenerbahçe SK, losing a match that was "there for the taking" on penalties.
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If you lose concentration, you can expect to be punished - that was the harsh lesson Sevilla FC striker Arouna Koné was left to absorb on Tuesday night after his team exited the UEFA Champions League on penalties to Fenerbahçe SK.
A 3-2 first-leg defeat in Istanbul left the Andalusian outfit needing only a 1-0 win to progress to the quarter-finals, and they got themselves on the scoreboard as early as the fifth minute courtesy of a Daniel Alves free-kick. Seydou Keita then added a second just four minutes later, but after Deivid responded for Fenerbahçe and Frédéric Kanouté struck at the other end, Deivid registered his second to send the match into extra time. No further goals were produced and that meant spot-kicks, with Sevilla's debut campaign finally ending when three of their attempts were saved.
"After going 2-0 up we eased off a bit," Koné told uefa.com. "We surprised ourselves by getting two early goals and maybe we relaxed. We lost concentration, started making mistakes and they were able to score, which gave them confidence. After that, everything got more difficult. It's very disappointing because we were in a good position to go through, we had the match there for the taking and it didn't happen."
The two-time UEFA Cup winners can nonetheless feel proud of their efforts after reaching the knockout phase at the first time of asking, yet it is a measure of their ambition that they would rather be spared the messages of consolation. "It was a good run but we wanted to reach the next round and that hasn't happened," said Koné, who watched most of the game from the bench before being brought on in extra time. "All we want to do now is book our place for next year. The whole team wants another taste. I've got experience of the competition from PSV [Eindhoven] but these other players are desperate for more."
Seventh in the Primera División, they will need a good run of results to get that second bite next term, and their Ivory Coast international is hoping they can bounce back against Levante UD on Sunday: "We've got an important match at the weekend and if we win that we'll get some of our confidence back. The next two days will be hard but we have to get over this result, pull together, work hard and climb the table."