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Mourinho applauds spirit of vanquished APOEL

José Mourinho paid tribute to APOEL FC's "organisation and character" after watching the Cypriot minnows keep his Real Madrid CF side out for 74 minutes before succumbing 3-0.

Mourinho applauds spirit of vanquished APOEL
Mourinho applauds spirit of vanquished APOEL ©UEFA.com

Ivan Jovanović, APOEL coach
The result was fair. We tried to contain them but they upped their tempo towards the end and we couldn't hold on. It was very gratifying to play against a team like Real Madrid. We all saw first hand what a quality side they are. You could say this game was a crowning moment for the fantastic campaign we produced this season in the competition. My players have done themselves proud throughout this campaign and once again against superior opponents like Madrid. Madrid are in the semi-finals; there is no question about that. I even believe that they will reach the final and, hopefully, win it.

This year has been surreal. Our aim was first and foremost to enter the group stage. To get into the knockout phase ahead of Zenit, Porto and Shakhtar was a fantastic accomplishment, as was our being able to eliminate Lyon. Perhaps the fact that we got the chance to play Madrid was another gift. It was an honour to play against them.

The second leg will be harder. We need to try and exit the competition in the best possible fashion. Our campaign will forever be written in gold in the history of not just our club but Cypriot football also. The Champions League may have taken its toll on us in terms of injuries and fatigue but it has been worthwhile. The experiences of being here and playing here was worth it but there are many games left in our own league and we are still in with a chance of reclaiming the title.

José Mourinho, Real Madrid coach
It took us a long time to open the scoring but that had a lot to do with our opponents, they played very well and to their strengths. Obviously they don't have the outstanding individual talent that other teams in the Champions League have but in terms of organisation and character they are fantastic.

We had to play well in order to win here; we had to be good at the back and good in our use of the ball. In the end we finished off the tie. [Nuri Şahin] did very well for us which makes us all happy as he is a great guy who had a difficult period arriving at a club like Madrid when he wasn't fit enough to even train. This was the perfect game for him because he knew we would have a lot of possession.

We won tonight because we played well. Defensively, APOEL did well and they always played with a good spirit. What they are doing this season is fantastic. We had to be at our best tonight in order to achieve this result. When Marcelo and Kaká came on, our opponents were running out of energy [and the substitutions] proved decisive. We had a lot of respect for our opponents tonight, the same respect we will show them at the Santiago Bernabéu; they are the most important team in [this season's] Champions League.