Leverkusen on track says Schmidt

A victory against FC Zenit has left Bayer 04 Leverkusen well placed to make the knockout phase according to Roger Schmidt, while André Villas-Boas is not worrying just yet.

Leverkusen players applaud the crowd at the final whistle
Leverkusen players applaud the crowd at the final whistle ©AFP/Getty Images

Leverkusen's Roger Schmidt says his side are well placed to qualify
André Villas-Boas confident his team are still in contention
Lars Bender certain the hosts deserved three points
Match report: Leverkusen 2-0 Zenit
Next games: Zenit v Leverkusen (4 November)

Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach
It was an intense and difficult game as expected. Zenit are a really good team – not only individually but also collectively. It was a tight match and a tough battle. They have quick players for counterattacking and we had to be very disciplined. That was the key. In the first half we had some good situations and in the second half we made the most of them. After the sending-off of Wendell we showed passion until the end without conceding. I think everybody saw we were deserved winners.

It was important for us today. The first half of the group stage is over and we have the possibility of qualifying. Being first in the table does not matter after three games. But we are not under pressure when we play in St Petersburg. We hope to qualify. We have won two games and know our chances are quite good to play Champions League even after Christmas.

André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach
The first half was very good for us and our strategy. We wanted to be in a good position until half-time. We controlled the space but we had no good control of the ball. We made some mistakes in passing. But in general we were satisfied with the first half. In the second half the main problem was that the second goal came immediately after the first. It is not the result we wanted. The other match [AS Monaco FC 0-0 SL Benfica] was what we expected. The group is open. We can get back on track with our next home match. In the Champions League little things make the difference and Leverkusen made the best of it.

Leverkusen 'pressure' too much for Zenit
Leverkusen 'pressure' too much for Zenit

Lars Bender, Leverkusen midfielder
We knew how important our home matches would be before we began this campaign. We have won both of ours and that takes us a big step further to qualifying for the knockout stages. I think you could see in the first half that Zenit are a good side and we knew we would have to be patient. We got the goal in the second half and obviously that played into our hands. Then we got a second and that was game over. We have thrown away some good leads this season and it was good to see this one through.

Oleg Shatov, Zenit midfielder
We lost fairly today. When the team doesn't play its best game then we spend little time in attack and create few chances. Our opponents had more possession and created more chances. This is a bad run for a team of Zenit's stature: one draw and three defeats. But we are a strong team with strong players and a strong spirit. We will pull ourselves together and improve the situation.

Giulio Donati scores the opening goal for Bayer
Giulio Donati scores the opening goal for Bayer©AFP/Getty Images

Last year we also got into trouble, and it's very important to pull ourselves together before it is too late, to understand what we are doing wrong and start again. At the beginning of the season I would have said we could beat any opponent, but now I'd prefer to restrain from such a statement.

Axel Witsel, Zenit midfielder
We are disappointed with the game. We knew it would be hard and that we would come under pressure. They put us under a lot of pressure in the first half and it was difficult for us to get forward with the ball. The problem was that we started to play when we were 2-0 down and it was much too late.

Our defence was a real block [in the first half]. We were very compact at the back and it was difficult for Leverkusen to find space between the lines. In the second half it was tough. After they made it 2-0 we started to play. It is bad but we still have three more games so we will have the opportunity to do better and try to win at home. I think this defeat means we have to win the next game at home.

André Villas-Boas at full time
André Villas-Boas at full time©AFP/Getty Images

Giulio Donati, Leverkusen defender
I think we did really well as a team to win the game and for me personally obviously it was a wonderful feeling to score. I wanted to slide towards the stands when I celebrated – but I just slipped over. We need to carry on playing the way we have been. It is going to be a completely different game in Russia in two weeks' time. Zenit are going to be very aggressive. We need to consider that the climate is going to be different to here but if we play our game we have every chance of success.

Karim Bellarabi, Leverkusen forward
I think we played well from the very first whistle tonight. You could see that we wanted to win at all costs and it was good fun out there. We kept it very tight at the back and made the most of our attacking opportunities and I think we deserved to win. We were the better side over the 90 minutes. I am delighted for the likes of [first goalscorer] Donati and especially [Kyriakos] Papadopoulos because he has had to wait a long time to regain his fitness. Wendell was outstanding for us as well.

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