Gençlerbirligi coach Ersun Yanal was delighted with his side's durability in their win against Valencia CF.
A first-half penalty from Filip Daems was enough for Gençlerbirligi SK to secure a 1-0 win against Valencia CF in this UEFA Cup fourth round, first-leg game at the 19 Mayis stadium in Ankara. The home side had dominated the first half, but were put under pressure in the final 45 minutes as the visitors threw everything forward.
Gençlerbirligi, however, stood firm and their coach Ersun Yanal hailed his players' battling qualities after the hard-earned win. He said: "We played against a very good opponent who have players with great technique. But we battled hard and my players won almost all their tackles and our defence made sure that they were unable to create any clear chances."
Chances were few and far between in this contest and Gençlerbirligi will be happy not to have conceded a goal in their home leg. Fabián Canobbio and Ricardo Oliveira both went close for the visitors in the second half but failed to seriously trouble Damir Botonjic in the Gençlerbirligi goal.
Yanal, meanwhile, was delighted with the support the team had received from the home fans. He said: "I am extremely happy that we have beaten one of strongest sides in Europe and my delight is of course strengthened by the support we got from the football fans here in Ankara."
And forward Mustafa Özkan, who battled throughout the game against the Valencia defence with his lively strike partner, Souleymane Youla, agreed with his coach. He said: "First of all, I want to thank the football fans in Ankara for their help this evening. We played very cautiously and carefully and I hope that we can now go to Spain and get a result."
Valencia will hope to overturn this first-leg deficit when the two sides meet at the Mestalla in two weeks' time. In this first leg, Valencia were without influential playmaker Pablo Aimar, Mista, Rubén Baraja and Carlos Marchena and coach Rafael Benítez fielded a makeshift line-up with Ricardo Oliveira acting as a lone striker.
Benítez still hopeful
Benítez is confident that his side can win their home leg and progress. The Valencia coach said: "The penalty changed the balance of the game but the second leg will be in our stadium and in front of our fans. We are confident that we can win at home."