"now we are not happy, but later we can smile," said FC Zenit's Axel Witsel after they progressed to the round of 16 despite a 4-1 defeat at a delighted FK Austria Wien.
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"Now we are not happy, but later we can smile," said FC Zenit's Axel Witsel after they progressed to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 despite a 4-1 Group G defeat at a delighted FK Austria Wien.
Already out of Europe, Austria recovered from falling behind to level at the break through Philipp Hosiner, who added a second after Tomáš Jun put the home team ahead, before Roman Kienast capped things off. It was Austria's first win of their debut group campaign, and Hosiner and Markus Suttner were thrilled. Meanwhile, Witsel and Tomáš Hubočan were grateful FC Porto also lost to Club Atlético de Madrid, meaning Zenit advanced to Monday's draw on six points.
Philipp Hosiner, Austria forward
It was an amazing game – we did a good job. Zenit went 1-0 in front but we did not stop playing our game, we kept our defence tight and made fast attacks, so it was good for us and the game that it was 1-1 at half-time. In the second half maybe they knew Atlético were 2-0 in front against Porto so maybe it was our chance and we did a very good job. When we have the ball we know it is our chance to play one-touch football very fast to get into the box.
In the Champions League we do not have the quality to have the ball that much and create many chances so we know we must attack very fast and with one-touch football that's the best way. We did it very well; the first goal came from a counterattack and the other goals were fast attacks too – we're very proud to win the last game here. I think I had one chance to score the hat-trick but I gave an assist in additional time and for me this is the same as a goal. I'm very proud to score two goals here and help my team to a win.
We've learnt so much this season – in six games as much as in previous years. We have not played as well in the league as we should because of these games, and our concentration has not been as it was for today, so our level hasn't been what we wanted it to be. However, from now on and into February when our league resumes we can use the experience from these six games to get into second position and higher.
It was very hard to play in the Champions League because the opponents have the ball and we have to run so much. But in our next game on Sunday we have Salzburg, this amazing team in Austria, so we have to recover before then so we can win on Sunday in Salzburg.
Markus Suttner, Austria defender
We showed passion to turn this game around. Lately our performances have improved and we carried that into tonight's game. We were able to give our fans something back. At 3-1 it became easier. We all know that we are a good team and now we have affirmation of that. We have reached five points against good teams so we are very proud of that.
We had long dreamt of a win so we are very happy. We are celebrating this win and it is impossible to go back to other games. We have learnt that at this level if you don't score goals from your chances then you will lose. We had chances against Porto but did not put them away. Today we are very happy because we did get the goals.
Axel Witsel, Zenit midfielder
We wanted to be independent so that if we won, we qualified anyway, but we lost, so now we are not happy, but later we can smile. We looked very good in the first half and I don't know what happened. We gave away two goals in five minutes early in the second half and when you do that it is hard to come back.
We saw the screen in the stadium with the score of the Porto match but I don't think this explains what happened to us. Our objective before this game was to win and only that. In the next round I would like us to play an English team, maybe Manchester United, as I like English teams and I have played against them before so why not a second time. I don't know how far we can go. We will see who we get and take it game by game.
Tomáš Hubočan, Zenit defender
Their first goal came after my mistake, I made a bad pass. It was a pity to concede a goal just before half-time. However, we had the whole second half ahead of us, but we did not react to the flow of play at the beginning of second half and conceded two quick goals. Then it was difficult to bounce back into the match. We try to play creative football, pass the ball around and not make many mistakes, but today we were not successful.