"We are already in the history books," said Málaga CF goalkeeper Willy after he kept a crucial clean sheet at Panathinaikos FC to seal the Spanish club's first group stage appearance.
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Málaga CF goalkeeper Willy said his side would enjoy themselves in the UEFA Champions League after securing the goalless draw they needed against Panathinaikos FC to book their place in the group stage for the first time.
Team-mate Joaquín praised the Spanish visitors' work ethic, which heightened the sense among Panathinaikos duo Orestis Karnezis and Ibrahim Sissoko that they had given themselves too much to do after a 2-0 play-off first-leg defeat. The pair could now look forward to a strong campaign in the UEFA Europa League, though.
Willy, Málaga goalkeeper
It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, almost 45 days since a pre-season with so many problems started. We just had to adapt to the situation and continue working hard. We have been rewarded for our efforts.
We played very well in both legs. We didn't rely just on the positive result we got at home, as we continued pushing for another victory. The difference between the teams was that we played the same way home and away. We came here looking to score a goal and not only defend the 2-0 first-leg lead.
Now it is time to enjoy ourselves in this competition because it has been a long and tough ride for us to reach this stage. I don't have a preference for Thursday's draw. Málaga are in the UEFA Champions League for the first time and we are already in the history books. Whatever we achieve from here depends on ourselves.
Joaquín, Málaga midfielder
It is very satisfying to reach the Champions League group stage through so much work and sacrifice. I am delighted that we are among the best in Europe. It has been a difficult summer with many important players leaving the club. This result rewards the work ethic, the attitude and the modesty of this team.
A Champions League play-off is never easy. We got a great result in the first leg when we played very well. We approached the second leg aiming to defend our lead without sitting back, because Panathinaikos are dangerous. Our approach was to get possession of the ball and go forward to finish off the tie.
As for the group stage draw, we know that all rivals will be tough but we have qualified and are determined to enjoy the competition and go as far as we can.
Orestis Karnezis, Panathinaikos goalkeeper
It became obvious today that the tie was lost in the first leg at Málaga. We tried but, as we said a week ago in Spain, it was a tall order. We were up against a very strong side, a team from the Spanish league in a different class to us.
Had we scored in the first leg, things would have been quite different today. We put in a lot of effort, we fought and now we will keep going. The Europa League is a great competition, we are glad to be participating in it and we promise to give it our all.
Ibrahim Sissoko, Panathinaikos midfielder
We feel bad because we have been eliminated. We didn't start well and we let them dictate the pace. However, that is only one battle lost. We have already qualified for the Europa League and we will focus on that competition. Our goal is to give everything on the pitch and advance past the group stage.