A "fantastic display" was key to Bayer 04 Leverkusen's victory over SL Benfica, said Roger Schmidt, with opposite number Jorge Jesus admitting the Eagles were second best.
Article top media content
• Coach Roger Schmidt hails Leverkusen's "fantastic display"
• Benfica's Jorge Jesus concedes Werkself were better side
• Son Heung-Min, Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Bernd Leno credit aggressive mindset
• Stefan Kiessling, Heung-Min and Hakan Çalhanoğlu struck in 3-1 Leverkusen win
• Next games: Leverkusen v Zenit, Monaco v Benfica (22 October)
Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach
My team were rewarded for a fantastic display. From the beginning everybody saw that we wanted to win this match. We did a great job in winning the ball, counterattacking and creating lots of chances. We could have scored even more than just three.
You should never underestimate a team like Benfica, especially because they scored out of nothing. Luckily we replied very quickly and then saw out the game in a solid way. I have to give a big compliment to my team for this performance. Benfica have obvious quality but we defended very well. We did not let them come into the danger zones. It has been an important match for us.
Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach
Leverkusen were the better team tonight, especially in the first half. We were not able to bring our quality onto the pitch. We were not able to play our own way. This was caused by Leverkusen who attacked us in our own half. We knew Leverkusen have a good team – they have very good offensive players who are very creative.
I can justify our performance because of the strength of Leverkusen. In the second half we put them under more pressure and the match became more even, but in the end that was not enough. Our problem was the game development, not the wrong lineup. But there are still 12 points at stake and we will try to make it [to the next phase].
Son Heung-Min, Leverkusen forward
It was a good performance, and we were deserved victors. We always try to perform right from the very start, to put our opponents under pressure. We tried that in our first match against Monaco, but in the end we didn't manage it. We did it better this time, scoring goals, and netting the first one pretty early in the match. That was very important for us.
It was very important to score the third goal, too. Kiessling did a great job there up front; but not only him, the whole team played in an outstanding way. The Champions League is very important for us, and [next opponents] Zenit today drew 0-0 at home so we have a real chance in this group. We have to focus on our play and perform well, and believe in our game. I think we are on a very positive path. Let's see what we can do.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Leverkusen forward
I think the decisive factor tonight was our will to win. We were there right from the start and tore them apart at times. We hardly gave them a sniff in terms of chances and the two goals we got in the first half set us up for the win. We are delighted to have got the three points because it keeps us in with a chance of qualifying.
Bernd Leno, Leverkusen goalkeeper
There was a fair bit of pressure on us – we needed the win, otherwise it would have made it very difficult to qualify. We were excellent in the first half. We had a few chances and could even have led by a higher margin. We hardly let them into the game. We did not let much through and got the ball forward quickly. We played some good football and pressed them to the extent that they could not start any moves. I think we surprised them with how aggressive we were.
André Almeida, Benfica defender
It was a tough game. We gave our best but unfortunately Leverkusen were stronger. Now we have to keep working in order to avoid this kind of result in future. We tried to change the course of events, but we felt Leverkusen had the upper hand.
Eduardo Salvio, Benfica midfielder
We did not start well, against a team who are strong in midfield. Tonight Bayer were better and we have to accept it. There are four games left and Benfica always play to win. If there is a chance, we'll fight until the end for qualification.