PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink believes strong defence was the key to his side's defeat of AJ Auxerre.
By Mark Bennett in Eindhoven
PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink believes a focused, determined display won his place in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals at the expense of AJ Auxerre.
After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, PSV ran out 3-0 winners in the Netherlands, and their coach quickly expressed his joy with his players' performance. "The team was very concentrated in the first few minutes and it is always great when you get an early goal," he said. "It just relieves the tension and gives you a chance to settle a bit."
'Vital second goal'
However, Hiddink insisted that Mateja Kezman's second goal after 27 minutes was even more important than the striker's first goal only four minutes into the match. "Mateja struck at exactly the right time," Hiddink said. "Auxerre were just recovering from the early shock and were starting to create a few openings. But even after that we had to be careful because if they had got a goal it would have been extremely dangerous."
'Defence the key'
Despite seeing Kezman score twice in the first half and Mark van Bommel add a third late on, Hiddink refused to single out any one player for special praise. "It was a very good all-round performance on our part," he said. "We looked tight in defence, worked hard and produced ideas in midfield and scored the goals you need up front. We never lost our way and when we got the third goal it was game over for Auxerre. Our solid performance at the back was the key to success because Auxerre have some very fast and strong players."
The Dutch coach was just as happy with the club's record in Europe over the last few months as with the win against Auxerre. "We were last defeated in Europe at [RC Deportivo] La Coruña last September and that is a great record for PSV," their coach reflected. "Let's just hope we can continue the run when we come up against Newcastle United FC in the next round."
AJ Auxerre coach Guy Roux was far from pleased with his team's display in the Philips Stadium and the veteran coach made no attempt to hide his disappointment. "We had a terrible day at the back today and that made it impossible to beat PSV because they are very good up front. As soon as well fell behind I had the feeling that we would not be able to come back. It just wasn't our day."
However, Roux quickly re-discovered his humour when he came up with something that he did like about his team's display. "It's hard to find something positive - we weren't sharp up front either," he admitted. "But then again I must say that my defenders were extremely consistent today. They continued to make mistakes over the full 90 minutes!"
The Auxerre coach was gracious in defeat, saying "PSV really deserved the win here today and I would like to wish the club all the best in the competition. Hopefully they can go on to win the UEFA Cup, but don't forget us and our small club."