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APOEL players reflect on greatest moment

Nothing could halt the superlatives as APOEL FC trio Constantinos Charalambides, Hélio Pinto and Gustavo Manduca reflected on the team's successful passage through Group G.

APOEL gained the point they required to go through
APOEL gained the point they required to go through ©Getty Images

APOEL FC trio Constantinos Charalambides, Hélio Pinto and Gustavo Manduca could not contain their delight as they contemplated the club's progress through to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. The Cypriot outfit − the first from the Mediterranean island to reach that stage − could be joined in the draw by FC Zenit St Petersburg, although there was only disappointment in the home camp after Wednesday's 0-0 draw.

Constantinos Charalambides, APOEL midfielder
This is the biggest day and the biggest moment in the history of this football club. I don't think anyone has really realised what has happened, especially as we were in such a tough group. I would like to thank our fans in Cyprus, and especially those who came to watch us in St Petersburg. It is a big moment and everyone deserves this because of the hard work that everyone has put in.

We knew coming into the game that we would be playing against a team that likes to attack. Of course they wanted to win, which is normal, but defending is also part of the game and especially in our case, as this is the result we needed. However, over the course of the group we have not always looked to defend. Normally we try to attack and show everyone what we can do. This is the greatest moment of everyone's life in our team tonight.

Hélio Pinto, APOEL midfielder
No one expected this to happen but this is a historic moment for the players and for the club and we are really happy about that. It was a difficult match, especially for our players who had never played in conditions like these. Coming into the game we knew it would be very hard, so therefore we are really happy that we managed to play out a goalless draw.

Gustavo Manduca, APOEL midfielder
This is the best moment of my career. This night for me is a miracle. The game was tough. The cold was something we weren't used to but as time went on we grew more confident. This is the greatest night in the history of the club. I never imagined that this success would happen when I arrived in Cyprus. I always hoped that I could play in the Champions League but to go through is a big plus.

Nicolas Lombaerts, Zenit defender
We were not accurate enough today and we need to work on that. We had the same situation where we were not able to find the back of the net in our last game. Today is the second time in a row this has happened and we need to find a solution for that. We gave nothing away at the back and we created some chances, so our failure to win is really our fault. The dressing room is quite down at the moment and everyone is a bit disappointed, but that's football and we need to get over it going into the next game.

Aleksandr Anyukov, Zenit defender
I don't think we had luck on our side tonight and we didn't take advantage of any of our chances. Tonight was even more frustrating for us as we had a number of good opportunities, but this is the Champions League and every counterattack that your opponent makes could potentially be a goal. APOEL are a good, solid side. Maybe they had fortune on their side during this Champions League campaign, but things like this happen. As they've managed to qualify, this is fully deserved.

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