Thulani Serero hailed the best night of his career as AFC Ajax ended FC Barcelona's unbeaten start to the season despite being down to ten men for almost half the game.
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Goalscorer Thulani Serero hailed the best night of his career as AFC Ajax inflicted a FC Barcelona's first defeat under Geraldo Martino, and in doing so kept alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stages. Both Serero and team-mate Viktor Fischer emphasised that the 2-1 win was a collective effort, especially after Jöel Veltman's 48th-minute dismissal. Barcelona, confessed Cesc Fàbregas, had "no excuses".
Thulani Serero, Ajax midfielder
This is one of the best nights of my career; no, the best. It comes top of the list. We knew we had to win to stay in the race, and we knew we had to work hard. Barcelona like playing football and so do we, so in that respect it was quite easy in midfield, spreading the ball to the wings and creating chances. I said before the game that I thought we would win and I was right.
I thought I played OK. I always look to improve and learn, I'm never satisfied and I want to do better. I was really pleased with my goal because I don't get into the box too often. When we lost a man I had to do more work in the midfield, but I am a team player and the team always comes first so that was fine.
One of the main differences between the match in Barcelona [a 4-0 defeat on matchday one] and tonight was our fans. When you play in front of your own supporters they push you on and it makes a huge difference.
Viktor Fischer, Ajax forward
We really believed we could do this, that we had the team, the will and the mentality to win. You could see this from the first minute. It's a question of belief –in yourself and in the team. We all knew what we had to do and what we could expect from each other.
We couldn't have had a worse start to the second half. But then you have to be aware that you can still get a good result, even if that means not playing in the way you would like. We defended very well, we were compact, and we kept Barcelona away from our goal for 40 minutes.
I saw that I covered more distance than anyone else in the team tonight. To be honest that's not the game I want to play. I prefer to have the ball, to shoot and to try and score. But sometimes you have to run the extra metres and be part of the team. That's what it was all about today.
Cesc Fàbregas, Barcelona midfielder
We did plenty of running, it was not a question of the wrong attitude or a lack of commitment; it just didn't work out. During half-time there was no panic, we spoke a lot about our positioning and how we could improve it, but we still weren't able to turn the game round in the second half. We have no excuses: the level of performance was simply not high enough for Barcelona.