"It was the lads' first Champions League experience and they were brilliant," Joe Cole said after LOSC Lille Métropole promised so much before PFC CSKA Moskva's comeback.
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On-loan midfielder Joe Cole was at pains to emphasise the "fantastic" aspects of LOSC Lille Métropole's performance on Wednesday after they cruised into a two-goal lead against UEFA Champions League Group B rivals PFC CSKA Moskva before Seydou Doumbia's late double earned a 2-2 draw. For his part, Doumbia acknowledged having been in "a very tough match" but hailed "a positive result" for the Russian club.
Joe Cole, Lille midfielder
If every time you scored the second goal you were safe, everyone would go home. You've got to give CSKA credit for what they did. They really pushed on at the end, having not really seen the ball for the first 60 minutes. We live and learn. It's an opportunity now for us to improve because we did a lot of fantastic things in the game. It was the lads' first Champions League experience and they were brilliant. Maybe we need to hold on a little bit more, but we'll learn from that. I can't speak highly enough of my team-mates; they were fantastic.
I wouldn't dare try to do an interview in French at the moment, but I know a few words and football's a world language. I'm getting by and it's an experience and I'm enjoying it. I played my first league game last week and now this is the first Champions League game and the next one will be my first start and I'll move on from there. I want to get back to my top level and hopefully win something and have fun with these guys. The group is wide open and I think you only really know where you stand after four games.
Florent Balmont, Lille midfielder
It's a shame and we're extremely disappointed because we deserved to win given the match we played. That said, it's true that we struggled at the end, which isn't surprising when you look at all the effort we put in. I think we possibly deserved to be leading by more than two goals by then. There's a huge feeling of disappointment in the dressing room and nobody said much because we put in the performance we had to. We lacked a little clear headedness and freshness and maybe we should have taken the game to our opponents more instead of dropping deep, which put us in too much danger. We'll learn from it, but if we play like that in every game, we can get out of this group.
Franck Beria, Lille defender
For our first match, we're left with mixed feelings. We really wanted to make a statement. We could have won it 2-0 and then all of a sudden they were able to equalise. We're very frustrated because I think we deserved to win. We went into the match with a desire to work hard for each other. We went after them very early on and it's true that we eased up as a team as we got tired. Their substitutions gave them a lot of freshness and they were clever on that front.
Seydou Doumbia, CSKA forward
Like I always say, a game is never over until it's over. This was a very tough match for us against very strong opponents. We had problems in the first half because we didn't know much about them, even though we've seen a lot of them on television. Luckily, we remained focused despite the scoreline, and our coach [Leonid Slutski] put us back on the right track at half-time. We had nothing to lose in the second half either and we managed to save the game right at the end. It's a positive result for us, especially since our next game will be at home [against FC Internazionale Milano on 27 September].
Zoran Tošić, CSKA midfielder
In the first half we didn't play very well. I don't know the reason why exactly, but we only started playing in the second half and in the end we deserved the result. It's good that we showed character after our [4-0 loss to FC Dinamo Moskva] in the league at the weekend and it's a good result for us. The first half was really bad for us: they put us under pressure, it was difficult to control the ball and we couldn't get close to goal.
We talked about that in the changing room at half-time and said we needed to control the ball better. When we started doing that, we started playing, creating chances and obviously we scored two goals. [Doumbia] is playing very well at the moment; he's our top scorer, this is a good time for him and we need to make the most of that. It's good not to lose your first game, especially in a competition like this where every point is important. We've made a good start – I can't say it's a great start, and in our next game at home we'll try to do even better.