Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Stefan Kiessling can look forward to the last 16 after a nervous wait while Gorka Elustondo vows Real Sociedad de Fútbol will learn from their debut.
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Instead of a cloud of depression settling over the Anoeta when Bayer 04 Leverkusen's hard-fought 1-0 win ensured Real Sociedad de Fútbol ended Group A without a goal in front of their home support or a victory, there was an interesting mix of German elation and Basque resolution to learn from the experience.
Stefan Kiessling gave a masterclass of centre-forward play, testing La Real's stand-in goalkeeper Eñaut Zubikarai on a number of occasions and hitting the crossbar with a header. Sami Hyypiä's team showed confidence, intelligence and fighting spirit as added time approached without them knowing whether or not the single-goal victory was sufficient given the other Group A match at Old Trafford. As the visitors held on to secure progress, every one of Jagoba Arrasate's side gave their utmost and now leave the competition vowing to grow in intensity and quality – however sore it has left them.
Stefan Kiessling, Leverkusen striker
We produced a performance from which we could, probably should, have scored a few more goals. Most of our chances came from open play but the goal was from a corner and we hit the bar with a free-kick so there was a mix of opportunities and there was quality involved in them all. The fact we didn't convert more chances is something that will stick in our throat a bit; it's something to learn from.
We have registered good results in the league, cup and now the Champions League away from home after that defeat by Manchester United, and that's an indication of us growing as a team. We are only just becoming aware of what we can achieve and what our potential is. Tonight perhaps our first half wasn't as strong as we wanted but we improved and added quality in the second half beyond just scoring.
Playing as a central striker in the Champions League is an education but not easy. In my position you are always a little reliant on the rest of your team and the chances they create for you. Today, although I didn't score I worked hard, I tried to contribute to the team play and I wanted my work – even without a goal – to make a difference to our result. As far as the draw for the next round goes, we can't choose and so whoever we end up with we'll simply try to beat.
Gonzalo Castro, Leverkusen midfielder
It was a tough match, evidenced by the fact we were fighting for the right result until the end of added time. Our qualification is, in part, thanks to [Manchester] United's win but we didn't know that until we saw it at the end on the giant scoreboard. We came here to win and we achieved that. Who we draw in the next round doesn't matter to me. We are there, that's what counts. It's early yet but, yes, the season is going well for Leverkusen thus far.
Rubén Pardo, La Real midfielder
We promised before the match that we'd give all we had to produce goals and a win for this support of ours who deserve more than we've given them this Champions League. We didn't manage that but we did show the desire and the hard work. We have suffered a bit of bad luck with our results in Group A. We've played with seriousness and intensity because we were so full of pride and ambition.
For any player this is the competition to be in. From my point of view it has been an early experience because I'm still young. I'll benefit from this. Now it's back to the league where we have to concentrate on each game so that we finish as high as possible and go as far as we can in the cup.
Gorka Elustondo, La Real defender
During the first half we were intense and pressed high up. It's just that in attack we found it difficult to find that quality moment. Leverkusen are very strong down the middle and very good in the air. The fact they scored so soon after half-time changed the second half and how it developed. Their quality was high but no surprise. This is the best competition.
We gave everything we had throughout the group but, for the moment, it's a level a little above where we are. I'll take away the impression that our rivals have been really intense in their play and perhaps superior physically. The experience will do us nothing but good in terms of learning and developing.