"Obviously a win of this magnitude has brought great joy to my players," said a proud APOEL FC coach Ivan Jovanović as he reflected on a famous win against FC Zenit St Petersburg.
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APOEL coach Ivan Jovanović
It would be wrong for me to say, being in a group with Zenit, Porto and Shakhtar, that we should have targets of qualifying. I have said before that we need to prove on the pitch that we deserve to qualify. We played well today; we defeated a very big side but we have nothing except pride tonight.
We are delighted to have beaten such a quality side, a side for which we have a tremendous amount of respect. Obviously a win of this magnitude has brought great joy to my players; with their attitude on the pitch tonight, they deserved this victory.
We were surprised that Zenit started off the game with five players at the back, but we handled the threat of counterattacks very well. Overturning a deficit against a team like Zenit is a huge accomplishment. We played well if you take away the last seven to eight minutes. During those final moments, Zenit could have equalised in what was a bad spell for us. But I still believe APOEL deserved to win tonight.
I am very happy for the fans who enjoyed an entertaining game and a great victory. We want to compete in this competition and not just make up the numbers. We have shown that we deserve to be in the group stage.
Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti
APOEL had the upper hand in the early stages and we tried our best to contain them. It was disappointing to concede two goals after we had scored first. We tried our best to respond and we even continued to play well after [Bruno Alves' 76th-minute red card]. A draw would have reflected a fairer image of the game. In the first half, we played very well and didn't risk too much by leaving space for them. We also did very well with regards to possession.
APOEL were as good as I thought – fast and aggressive, but not unbeatable. We had the upper hand before the break and a number of great chances in the final stages of the game. We will now discuss our mistakes and try to put them right. We just need to keep being professional and do our job. It's too early to call anyone favourites in this group, but it's obvious that any team that's won has an advantage.